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Montgomery County program in Blue Bell makes pantry meals for students from excess food

Montgomery County program repurposes excess food for student pantry meals
Montgomery County program repurposes excess food for student pantry meals 01:31

BLUE BELL, Pa. (CBS) -- Teachers and students in Montgomery County are being innovative in using excess food to help fight food insecurity and benefit students in need.

Fruit leftover from a campus event became the main ingredient in acai smoothies, made fresh by students at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell.

Jennifer Fanega is a graduate of the school and a food sustainability fellow from AmeriCorps VISTA. She said, last semester alone, the campus threw away about 470 pounds of perfectly-edible excess food.

"I knew I could do something with that food," she said.

Fanega is part of a three-year grant program led by Hospitality Institute Director Karima Roepel. Together, they teach students to help keep good food out of the trash and make free, freshly prepared, plant-based meals.

"Not only people who are vegan for ethical reasons or health reasons," Fanega said. "But maybe also for religious reasons."

Those meals took a short cart ride upstairs to the campus food pantry at the school's Wellness Center. Dustin Casanova, a first-year student at the college, said he visits the pantry twice a week.

"It's a wonderful thing that they have set up here," Casanova said.

He added, that without having to worry about paying for food, the program helped him stay in school: "I was going through a moment where my whole life was changing."

He loves the food and encourages his classmates to also come.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions, because those questions can get you the things that you need," Casanova said.

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