Friendship Donations Network (FDN) is an innovative and transformative program that saves nutritious food that would otherwise be wasted. It redirects food to people in need, keeping it out of the landfill. FDN’s donations of fresh, nutritious food include a wide assortment of local and exotic produce as well as organic products. This provides options to people who otherwise could not afford such a varied and healthy diet.
Many of FDN’s programs teach consumers how easy it is to cook foods, such as various squashes, that they may have previously not been exposed to. FDN strives to provide a healthy alternative to processed food, high in salt, sugar, fat and artificial ingredients, that is cheap and accessible for many people with limited incomes. While FDN is a food rescue and redistribution program that collects up to 600,000 pounds of mostly perishable food every year, it is also important to note that it is all about transforming how American communities deal with excess and day-old food that is usable and nutritious.
About 30 programs are served by FDN, including pantries, community hot meals, children’s programs, outreach to low-wage work sites, families who live in trailer parks, low-income homes, and senior citizens. Participating programs and their 235 volunteers pick up and distribute donations of mostly perishable surplus food from Ithaca’s food outlets. Donors include supermarkets, wholesale food suppliers, Cornell University, bakeries, area farms, and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. For a list of our current donors, see Donors.
FDN began in 1988 to aid destitute migrant farm workers in 112 migrant labor camps (Sodus, New York) with necessities. In 1992, the program expanded to include Ithaca and surrounding communities. Thirty hunger programs pick up donations of mostly fresh perishable food donated by area donors, including deliveries of free food to low-wage work sites and rural poor. FDN provides a teaching model for innovative and transformative practices to save nutritious food from being dumped and instead, divert it to those in need.
Donations by the Numbers
In-Kind Donations: Up to $1.5 million annually
Food Donations: 1,000–1,500 lbs per day; 10,000–12,000 lbs per week; (more on holidays); up to 600,000 lbs per year
Value of Food Donations: $2,000–4,000 per day; $1.2–1.5 million per year with increases on holidays and harvest time.
Number of Consumers Served: Up to 2,100 per week. Pantries are held weekly; bi-weekly; or monthly. There is a pantry in Ithaca or nearby communities every day of the week including weekends. Daily and weekends—seven days per week—community meals are served in Ithaca. See Programs Served for a current schedule. Up to 2,100 persons are served weekly through 30 hunger programs. Each pantry receives about 1,000–1,500 pounds of mostly fresh, perishable food donations daily—fruits, vegetables, assorted breads and pastries, assorted groceries, variety of dairy and deli items, eggs, pizzas, and more!
Food Donors: see Donors Page
Nonprofit Organization: As of September 7, 2010, Friendship Donations, Inc. is an officially incorporated nonprofit organization. FDN is a 501(c)3 program (EIN: 32-0318047). All donations are tax-deductible. FDN is a non-denominational organization and does not promote any message, including religion.
Volunteers: FDN is a volunteer-driven organization. 30 hunger programs and their 235 volunteers pick up food from donors and deliver it to their respective programs; they set up the pantry and distribute the food to those in need.
Staff: Meaghan Sheehan Rosen, MSW is FDN’s Program Coordinator.
Board of Directors: The FDN Board of Directors consists of Carolyn Tomaino (president), Kenneth Finkelstein (vice-president), Mike Charnoky (treasurer), Martin Fellows Hatch (secretary), Karen Comstock, Bruce Estes, Michael Koplinka-Loehr, Jane Mt. Pleasant, Art Pearce and Jim Salk.
Budget: The 2012 FDN budget is available in PDF form for download.
What Sets FDN Apart
FDN’s mission not only to serve, but also to provide an innovative and transformative teaching model. The goal is to encourage other communities to take action to reuse the billions of pounds of good food that get dumped every year and donate it to those in need.
FDN rescues mostly nutritious fresh perishable food from local food outlets, and on holidays, from colleges and universities (mostly when they close for vacations). The food is picked up every day by volunteers, who deliver it directly to local pantries and other community food programs. FDN responds quickly once food becomes available. Food is distributed within one or more hours on the day it is picked up. If FDN did not exist, donations would most likely be discarded, contributing to environmental degradation and increased hunger.
FDN strives to teach healthy eating and cooking methods at its pantries and programs. The need for fresh produce, unprocessed food, and whole grains is critical to diminish the many health issues that people in need face.
FDN works to alleviate hunger and food insecurity through recovery and redistribution of nutritious food; to bridge the gap between excess food waste and hunger; to transform the wasteful nature of our society; to provide an innovative teaching and publicity model of how to transform how communities act with regard to good food that will be wasted; to act as a one-call center for donors seven days a week; to model a sustainable, home grown, grassroots low budget agency with a focus on teaching, publicizing and informing how to reduce hunger by reducing, reusing and recycling good, nutritious food that is slated to be wasted.
FDN differs from a food bank in its approach to obtaining food. Food banks must charge member programs for overhead per pound or package of food. FDN has never paid for food. FDN encourages all its programs to become members of a food bank so that they may offer a wider assortment of food as well as a more reliable source of food at each of the pantries. The two programs are not redundant: seven of FDN’s 30 pantries/programs are members of both networks. Thus, they are able to offer a greater variety and quantity of perishable and non-perishable food at each pantry and program.
E-chievement Award, E-Town and Argosy Foundation (National Radio), May 2007
Laura Holmberg Award, The Community Foundation of Tompkins County, March 2007
Phenomenal Assistance Award, City of Ithaca—GIAC
Woman of the Year, Tompkins County Trust Foundation
Woman of Excellence, Girl Scouts—Seven Lakes Council
Graceful Giving Award, (National) Points of Light Foundation
AARP “Social Impact Award”, 2008
Kendal Residents Community, Thanksgiving Offering
Certificate of Appreciation, Bethlehem Church of Jesus Christ