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The Family Meals Program

In the USA, roughly one third of food is wasted; in Massachusetts, one in ten individuals are food insecure.


In the fall of 2014, HUDS began donating hot foods that were not eaten by the end of meal service to Food for Free. Three years later, HUDS enhanced the donation program by adding a new element: taking the same leftover food from one dining hall and portioning it into nutritionally-diverse, single-serve microwavable meals called Family Meals. These meals are distributed to residential hotels and shelters in the area where food insecure individuals live but do not do not have traditional kitchen space to prepare healthy food. 

In the 2018-19 school year, HUDS' prepared more than 3,500 such meals at our kitchen in Annenberg dining hall.

What We Do

At the Family Meals Program, volunteers work in Annenberg’s kitchens to repurpose leftover food into meals with dignity – balanced meals of complementing proteins, starches and vegetables.Completed meals are then picked up by Food for Free and shared with families in the surrounding area.

How To Help

HUDS invites University affiliates to join us in this volunteer work. Undergraduates may participate in plate-ups several evenings a week after dinner service. Graduate students, faculty or staff can similarly lend a hand any Wednesday by assembling a team of five to seven people who can enjoy a group lunch in the dining hall and then participate in a plate-up. The Family Meals program for students is led by two Food Literacy Project (FLP) Food Recovery Fellows who educate participants about the environmental and social context of food waste. The Grad Student/Faculty/Staff program is coordinated by HUDS team members Crista Martin and Gwen Koch.

To sign up for a volunteer shift, visit:

Potential long-term student volunteers can email Volunteers are limited to Harvard ID holders.

An Award-Winning Program

The Family Meals Program has won a variety of awards, including the Cambridge City of Commerce Visionary Award in 2017 and a medal from the National Association of College and University Foodservice in 2018.