My Favorite Speaker of the Year (so far)- Ben Simon

Ben Simon, who is the founder of Food Recovery Network, had a dream to become a great football player, and when that failed he decided to put his efforts into something else. Junior year of high school he joined a club called the social action club. One day he decided to start a protest at his high school because of the genocide in Darfur. The protest worked, and this was his first step to his development of becoming a leader. He said, “If my protest worked then shit, what else can I do?”

When he attended the University of Maryland he tried to start a website called He invested $80,000 in it, but the effort was a failure. However, this did not stop him from trying to start something else. When he was sitting in the dining hall one day he noticed that all the extra food from that day was just being thrown away. Witnessing this sparked an idea, and he decided to do something about it.

He developed a program to take the leftover food to local shelters and created a way to get the food from point A to point B. This was the start to The Food Recovery Network. He wanted to start these efforts at other colleges too so he called up his friend from Brown University and soon people started talking. Now Food Recovery Network is working in 100 different colleges around the US.

This was one of the most interesting events I have attended so far this year. He made it fun and very informative. Here at Nichols we are trying to start the Food Recovery Network, and I decided to join the group of students who will be a part of it. We will take food from the dining hall at the end of the day and bring it to a shelter, possibly in Webster. As a freshman, I wanted to join so I could be a part of the college’s efforts to help the local communities. I am excited to see the progress in the next three and a half years. This is an extremely important program because, on average, there is so much food that goes to waste and there are 1 in 6 Americans that are hungry. Now we can do something about it.

It was mandatory for freshman to attend because of our Learning to Lead class. Ben talked to us about how to become a good leader and some characteristics of being a good leader. He discussed that to be a good leader you have to fail and that failing is not a bad thing. He used his examples of failure to prove his point. He could not become a football player because he hurt his shoulder and if that did not happen there probably wouldn’t be a Food Recovery Network. When he tried to start up the website he failed, but he said he would not trade that for the world. “Embrace failure, fail forward,” he said.

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