Fort Worth

Here’s what TCU does with 1,000 pounds of leftovers after football games

TCU leftovers feed the homeless

After every TCU home game, the Union Gospel Mission receives leftovers delivered by TCU's Food Recovery Network.
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After every TCU home game, the Union Gospel Mission receives leftovers delivered by TCU's Food Recovery Network.

Robert Clethan joked that he needs to get a TCU hat.

“I get excited for those games,” he said.

But Clethan, the food services director at the Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter on East Lancaster Avenue, isn’t into it for the football.

Two days after the Horned Frogs play a home game, Clethan knows he can expect a truckload of leftover food from the game.

“Everything that gets brought here gets used,” Clethan said Monday after weighing this week’s donation, which totaled just over 860 pounds. “Everything.”

The donations are coordinated by the TCU Food Recovery Network, a student organization that works to eliminate food waste on campus, and Sodexo, the university’s food service company. The student organization also delivers leftovers from the campus dining hall to Union Gospel Mission twice a week.

Megan McCracken, a senior student and president of the Food Recovery Network, said the group began in the spring with the deliveries from the dining hall.

After researching food recovery methods at other universities, the group learned that football stadium leftovers — because of the sheer quantity of the food needed — had been effective as donations elsewhere.

Sodexo, which also caters the food for all of the suites and club levels at TCU football games, agreed to package up the food each Monday and help the Food Recovery Network deliver it to the shelter.

The first donation was more than 1,000 pounds, which provided the Union Gospel Mission with enough food for a week, and each delivery since has been about the same.

Monday’s donation included bags of chicken wings, coleslaw, potato salad and trays of packaged brisket, cornbread and cookies.

McCracken said the Food Recovery Network at TCU started with a primary focus of eliminating food waste. In the United States, 30-40 percent of the food supply is wasted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The group also helps serve food at the Union Gospel Mission once a month.

“It’s great to know that the Fort Worth community is benefiting,” McCracken said.

Clethan said most of the food donated by Sodexo and TCU is ready to eat. He stored the food in a freezer on Monday but expected to use it throughout the week. Union Gospel Mission serves meals to about 300 people three times a day, Clethan said.

“People really want to help out, but they don’t know how to help out sometimes,” Clethan said. “They just need to know there’s a place like this that can use things like that.”