Over the summer, I worked on a project that addresses the issue of food waste and food insecurity. My sister, Lauren Stenger, and I went to restaurants and cafes in our hometown to ask if they would allow us to pick up their surplus food and deliver it to a local homeless shelter, instead of them throwing it away.

Through this project, I learned a lot about the importance of perseverance. Lauren and I faced challenges when many of our local restaurants were either already partnering with food waste organizations or simply did not follow up with us. At times we felt disappointed that our project was not going as smoothly as we had hoped. Instead of giving up, we continued to go to restaurants with our proposal letter in hand. Although we didn’t get as many restaurants involved as we had hoped, two were immensely generous in food donations, and this meant the world to the shelter we were donating to. Lauren and I received 50 burritos from a local Mexican restaurant and 50 pastries from a local café. We donated this food to a youth homeless shelter in Oakland called Covenant House, and they were immensely grateful (one of the employees cried!). If we had given up in those times when our project seemed like a lost cause, we would have missed the opportunity to give back to youths in need. Many thanks to the CSGC and the Earl/Mendillo grant for this opportunity to give back!

-Kate Stenger ’22

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