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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “I had this day that changed my life when I was going through my third year here at Drexel.” Evan Ehlers, now a senior at Drexel University, recalls this day as the single best day of his life.
When Evan was going through finals and getting ready to go back home to West Chester, New York… “I realized I still had over 50 meal swipes left on my dining account. I knew I wouldn’t be able to use them before the end of the term.” He said something didn’t feel right about leaving them there, since they would disappear when he want home.
He decided to take his meal card to the cafeteria along with two large plastic bins. “I just swiped my card until I had nothing left. I then took all those meals, packed them in the bins, took those bins to my car, and drove them to Center City. I gave out all the meals in less than half an hour.”
This was the start of the nonprofit, Sharing Excess. Evan says this “literally translates to sharing excess food.”
Officially incorporated in April 2018, the organization works to tackle hunger both on Drexel’s campus and in the Philadelphia area. Evan and his team are able to meet their goals through a meal swipe donation program that he helped create closely with the University and through food rescue routes.
“The way that our rescue [routes] work is essentially we have a student that drives to one of our partnered organizations. They pick up the food and then we bring it to a local hunger relief organization where they are using this food to serve to those who are suffering from food insecurity.”
Ehlers was awarded Drexel’s 2019 Outstanding Student Award and the 2019 Co-op Achievement Award. This allowed Ehlers to work solely on his business, without the disruption of classes, for six months and was also awarded $15,000 in seed funding to launch Sharing Excess.
Sharing Excess now has its own space right on campus, in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Incubation Space.
Within just 8 months of doing food rescues, the team has transported approximately 30,000 pounds of food to hunger-relief organizations around Philadelphia. “We like to have our number of pounds that we’ve rescued to date right here on the wall,” says Evan pointing to a large whiteboard in their office. “Every time we up that number that’s a couple hundred people we just fed.”
Evan hopes to create a model that “any student can use in their University to make a difference in their community. I want students to take Sharing Excess and make it their so they can be the hero’s in their own community.”
We give 3 Cheers to Evan and Sharing Excess for their work in helping to solve one of humanities greatest problems.
If you would like to support Sharing Excess, they currently sell apparel on their website. Proceeds directly fund food rescue pick-ups. A single hat will fund the transportation of approximately 90 pounds of food. Head to their website for more, www.sharingexcess.com.