Goodies galore: Pitt group gives to low-income children

A group of Pitt students hosted a party that included goodie bags, but the guests didn’t take a single one home. 

On Monday night, Pitt’s chapter of the Food Recovery Heroes hosted a “Birthday Bags Challenge” during which volunteers filled bags with party supplies like cake mix, frosting, balloons and candles to create birthday bags for low-income children. The bags will also include birthday hats and cards volunteers made during the challenge between 6 and 8 p.m. in the William Pitt Union. 

Jonae Lloyd, president of Pitt’s Food Recovery Heroes chapter, started the chapter in the spring of 2014 at Pittduring her junior year.

According to Lloyd, the birthday bags idea came from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The Food Recovery Heroes will donated the bags to the Food Bank. 

“The idea started when a little boy came to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and claimed that he had never had a birthday party or tasted cake,” Lloyd said.

Approximately 35 volunteers from Pitt’s YMCA, Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Gamma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Phi Omega filled 72 birthday bags at the event. 

The Food Recovery Heroes are a Food Recovery Network Pitt Chapter. The students recover nearly expired food, such as salads, pasta, sandwiches, desserts and frozen foods, from dining halls and other college campus food services, then give it to agencies such as Jubilee, Focus, School to Career and the Oakland Food Pantry. 

The Food Recovery Heroes raised approximately $400 through bake sales and a Twitter campaign to purchase supplies for the bags, according to Lloyd.

Lloyd, a senior majoring in psychology, said the group has about three recoveries a day, where volunteers collect food from Pitt. The volunteers measure and record the food, then send it straight to the agencies. Last semester they collected more than 2,000 pounds of food and expect similar numbers this semester.

Sam Ministero, a senior biology and literature major and the dining hall representative, helped Lloyd found the chapter. 

“Unfortunately we don’t have the presence yet, but we’re a young club. I think we are making a difference and could make a bigger one,” Ministero said. “I want to see this grow.”