Increasing affordability through eliminating food waste and food insecurity at NYU

Increasing affordability through eliminating food waste and food insecurity at NYU

Given that nearly 40% of food waste in the U.S. occurs at the consumer level, we called on participants to track their waste, measuring all the scraps they threw away. It was an enlightening experience — many said they were shocked by how much they wasted, began actively taking steps to toss less, and started to rethink the way they cooked at home.

With the rise of college tuition and the high cost of expenses such as housing, books, and transportation, food insecurity ­­­­­­­­has become a concern for some college students. A recent survey at University of Californiaunveiled that 40% of UC students do not have a stable source of high-quality, nutritious food. Yet, every year, 22 million pounds of food go to waste on college campuses according to estimates by the Food Recovery Network. Passionate and socially minded students at US colleges have developed several projects to reduce food waste by re-purposing uneaten food and donating it to people in need — within and beyond campus. At New York University, two student-led projects, Share Meals and NYU Freedge, aim to develop community-centered solutions to turn food waste into food opportunities for students.

A human-centered design project of Design for America-NYU, The NYU FREEdge is a  smart community refrigerator, where students, faculty and staff are invited to share and receive food. The aim of the project is to foster community engagement and trust and to create a movement around food sharing, reducing the environmental footprint from food wastage and provide food for those in need.

The NYU FREEdge provides the NYU community with an easy way to share food. With NYU’s high tuition and high cost of living in New York, there are many students who find it difficult to afford food. NYU, through its various initiatives makes available enough food to feed all of its students through events and workshops. However, so much of it goes to waste every single day. The NYU FREEdge team is committed to redirecting this food, whether it be from individuals, events, clubs, etc. to  members of the community that may be struggling with food insecurity.

The NYU FREEdge is a project that received the NYU Prototyping Fund Phase 1 ($500) in Fall 2016. It was also awarded the Phase 2 grant ($2000) in Spring 2017.

At the end of the Spring 2017 term, the team consisted of Simon Chen, Tandon ‘18; Emma Hoffman, Gallatin ‘18; Rodney Lobo, Tandon ‘17;  Vandit Maheshwari, Tandon ’18; Michael Niamehr, Tandon ‘19 and Tuba Naziruddin, Tandon ‘18.

Original stories can be found on NYU Entrepreneurs Blog,, OpenIDEO stories:

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