New Paltz Food Recovery Program wins state award for recycling leadership

A new program designed to recover foods from SUNY New Paltz dining facilities and deliver them to local food pantries has won the 2018 Award for Recycling Leadership from the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling.

The award was presented to Maxwell Fuller, who serves as Sodexo’s director of resident dining on the New Paltz campus. Fuller has been working to establish a New Paltz Food Recovery Program since late 2015, in collaboration with associates at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town of New Paltz and the campus administration.

While the College already had programs in place to divert pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste to compost, Fuller and his colleagues saw an opportunity to collect fresh food to help feed the hungry.

The program began with Sodexo delivering recovered food to the campus food pantry, and gradually increased its distribution network to include hunger prevention organizations in New Paltz, Lloyd, Rosendale, Kingston and Esopus.

“Maxwell should be recognized for his deep commitment to keeping food out of the waste stream and on the tables of those less fortunate. He ensures the items are as nice as those nice on the shelves,” said Laura Petit of the New Paltz Reuse and Recycling Center, who nominated Fuller. “Nothing bothers him more than to throw away ‘perfectly good food that could be feeding someone.’”

The program has recovered and distributed more than two tons of fresh, homemade salads, sandwiches, fruit and baked goods since 2017, not only increasing organizations’ serving capacity, but also providing much-needed variety to pantries and shelters whose stocks often lack healthy proteins and produce.

“We work hard to ensure the food that gets distributed through this program is as nice as the food you would have in the display case, because we believe those who are less fortunate deserve to have the same quality food as those who can afford to buy it,” Fuller said.

In addition to helping the needy, the Food Recovery Program is also helping divert significant volume of food waste from local landfills, which Project Drawdown identifies as the third most impactful solution to global climate change. The program’s reduction of the College’s overall environmental footprint has earned recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Visit Sodexo at SUNY New Paltz online to learn more about their contribution to campus-wide sustainability efforts.

The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling, the professional recyclers’ association for New York State, recognizes a few outstanding achievers each year for their dedication, innovation, and passion for recycling. The awards were presented during the annual New York State Recycling Conference in Cooperstown on Nov. 8.