Eight tons of surplus food saved, repurposed from Notre Dame Stadium during 2022 football season

Author: Erin Blasko


The University of Notre Dame donated more than 8 tons of food to Cultivate Food Rescue during the recently completed home football season, or about 2,300 pounds per game, helping to battle hunger and reduce food waste in the local community.

The items, including meats, vegetables, starches and even desserts, represent surplus food from catering and concessions operations at Notre Dame Stadium, which fall under the purview of Levy, the primary food service provider for Notre Dame Athletics.

“As a university, we’re always looking for ways to reduce waste while offering nutritious, surplus food to our neighbors,” said Tim Sexton, associate vice president for public affairs at Notre Dame. “In that respect, Cultivate Food Rescue continues to be a wonderful partner. We are grateful for the incredible impact they are having on our region.”

Established in 2017, Cultivate partners with Notre Dame and other local vendors to rescue and distribute surplus food to more than 100 organizations in St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties. It also operates a nationally recognized backpack program for local schoolchildren in the tri-county community. The organization has rescued more than 3.5 million pounds of food to date, while providing nearly half a million backpacks to students who face food insecurity.

Notre Dame, for its part, has donated more than a quarter million pounds of food to the organization, from Notre Dame Stadium as well as Purcell Pavilion, Compton Family Ice Arena, the Center for Culinary Excellence, North and South dining halls and other venues. Notre Dame students and staff, including student-athletes, also routinely volunteer for the local nonprofit.

“Our mission at Cultivate is that ‘no neighbor goes hungry and no food is wasted,’” said Jim Conklin, executive director and co-founder of Cultivate. “The University of Notre Dame has been our most valuable player in this effort in our community. As our first food donor, the University blazed the path for nearly 70 more food donors to join. In addition to food donations, the University has been a valuable source of volunteer, financial and research support. Our fundamental belief is that there is enough surplus food in our community to feed every hungry child and adult in our community.”

Food waste is an increasing problem both here and around the globe. In the U.S., as much as 40 percent of the food supply is wasted, according to the federal government, even as 34 million Americans, including 9 million children, go hungry. Inflation has only added to the problem. At the same time, food waste contributes to climate change in the form of methane. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, discarded food accounts for as much as 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

In addition to Cultivate, Notre Dame partners with Food Rescue US to donate leftovers from campus dining and catering operations to local homeless shelters. It also collaborates with Grind2Energy and Plymouth-based Homestead Dairy to convert nonconsumable food waste to clean, renewable energy via anaerobic digestion.

For more information, visit green.nd.edu or dining.nd.edu/about/values/sustainability.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu