Students study Oakland County food saving project, Food Rescue US

According to the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative, approximately 11% of adolescents in Oakland County are struggling with food insecurity. For the wealthiest county in Michigan — based on personal income per capita — this statistic highlights that food insecurity is a widespread problem which permeates the everyday lives of many individuals in and around Oakland University’s campus. 

OU students Sarah Nyquist, a junior majoring in radiologic technology, and Rachel Whalen, a senior majoring in medical laboratory sciences, recognized this pressing matter and decided to explore available nutrition support programs for their Explorations in Collaborative Leadership and InterProfessional Education (ECLIPSE) Community Health Research Project. 

The pair studied the nonprofit organization, Food Rescue US, to explore what may be done to mitigate food insecurity within Oakland County.

Food Rescue US has a rather fitting name, as its primary goal is to rescue food which would otherwise go to waste. Since its inception, Food Rescue US has provided more than 112 million meals to those in need and rescued over 141 million pounds of excess food.

“One of the things I love about Food Rescue is how it’s solving multiple social issues — helping keep food out of landfills, helping to feed people in need and helping to get more food into food pantries to serve more people,” Dr. Jennifer Lucarelli, a Food Rescue US community partner, said.

The organization empowers community members to serve others by recruiting volunteers, food donors and agency partners through the support of their mobile app.

“What I like about working with Food Rescue Detroit, in particular, is how easy it is to find a volunteer time slot that works with my schedule,” Lucarelli said. “The app is easy to use, and you can pick a one-time opportunity or you can adopt a recurring weekly rescue.

“I even signed up to get daily emails about what rescues are still available for the next day in case I happen to be free,” Lucarelli said. “I’ve been able to bring friends along with me, and we’ve had fun using our social time together to make the world a better place.”

Oakland County works alongside the Detroit chapter of Food Rescue US. The branch, founded in 2019, has saved over 8 million pounds of food through partnerships with over a hundred food donors. 

The Neighborhood House, a nonprofit organization located in Rochester, receives a portion of these donations. With the goal of decreasing food insecurity across Oakland County, The Neighborhood House organizes and distributes this food to community members.

“As an OU student working with Food Rescue US, I would say that my perspective on food insecurity has broadened,” Whalen said. “Initially, when I would think of Oakland County, I only saw as far as the large houses and expensive stores. Now, I recognize that Oakland County presents just as much need as some of the surrounding counties.”

Getting involved with the Detroit Chapter of Food Rescue US is rather simple, with their mobile app making scheduling volunteer hours easy by listing the locations and times available.

Food Rescue US is always looking for volunteers and any OU student who wishes to start their volunteering journey can visit their website at for more information on how to aid in reducing food insecurity within the local community.