December 8, 2022


Outstanding health & fitness

How saving uneaten food can change lives and help the climate

They’re both committed to continuing their work around food waste and have already identified food rescue organisations running on their respective campuses.

Fresh Hub will continue without them. Shirley and Annie have handed the reins to younger students at their high school, who will keep up the monthly events. The sisters have also had interest from other schools and put together guides on how to set up Fresh Hub-style events.

For now, Annie and Shirley’s legacy with Fresh Hub can be expressed in statistics: since 2017 they have led a total of 23 events, mobilised a team of 100 high-school volunteers, saved 15,200 pounds (6,900kg) of food from landfill and served 1,900 Houston residents.

It can also be told in human stories, like one family’s broccoli soup lunch or the man in the wheelchair, struggling financially after a serious injury, who sticks in Annie’s mind for the joy he brought when he put on an impromptu singing show at a December event.

There is also something very personal for Annie and Shirley, who learned that, while trying to tackle big problems can seem intimidatingly complex, it is possible if you take it one step at a time.

Annie says Hurricane Harvey led to a realisation that changed the way she thinks. “I can’t just sit around waiting for other people to find solutions, but I should be part of that movement to create the solution myself,” she says.

Shirley echoes the sentiment. “We were used to seeing other adults being the heroes in this situation and taking action and didn’t consider ourselves as capable of making change,” she says. She now believes that whatever someone’s age or resources, it’s always possible to do something.

“I think they’re fearless,” says Bronstein. “That amazes me because maybe as you get older you become more inhibited. But them? Nothing scared them off.”

Bright Sparks Sustainability

This article is part of BBC Future’s Bright Sparks: Sustainability series, which sets out to find the young minds who are finding new and innovative ways of tackling environmental problems. They are the next generation of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs who are taking control of their own future by seeking solutions to climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and over-consumption.

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