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No Food Left Behind


Quick Reminder: Event Times and Locations are Subject to Change.




No Food Left Behind is an initiative to ensure catered event food isn’t wasted and instead feeds our UC Merced community. It is a collaboration between many departments and programs including Lakeside Catering, UC Merced Environmental Health and Safety, Basic Needs, the Office of Sustainability and the Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program. 


Option 1: Those who are attending a participating Lakeside Catered event will be allowed to bring a food container to take home leftover food from the event. 

Option 2: There will also be a texting service available to the UCM Community. Those who opt in to the texting service will receive a text usually 24 hours before a participating Lakeside Catered event. The text will alert people to bring a food container to the upcoming event to collect leftovers.


Sample text message- “Free Food, Wednesday, 8/7, 2-2:15, California Room, bring a food container.”

The food either must be stored properly or consumed immediately and participants will have only 15 minutes after the scheduled event to collect leftovers. For example, if the event runs 12-2 pm, people will only have until 2:15 for food collection. We ask that those collecting leftovers be respectful to event planners and caterers and respect the 15 minute time limit and be respectful and quiet if waiting for an event to end. Please note that event planners and No Food Left Behind Coordinators cannot ensure that there will always be leftovers at all events. 


Disclaimer- Individuals will be consuming leftovers at their own risk and will not hold UC Merced liable for any harm or injury. 

Due to COVID-19, please wear a mask, continue social distancing and abide by all other COVID-19 protocols.

Anyone at UC Merced can sign up for the text service at anytime. To sign up, text FOOD to 85523. Please text STOP to opt out when desired or when leaving the UC Merced community.


Those interested in registering Lakeside Catered events as No Food Left Behind Events can do Via CaterTrax. Those ordering food from external vendors can sign up on the "America to Go" form.


For questions, comments, feedback or to get involved with the program, please contact Erin Meyer at or (209)205-8102.

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Q: Is this a free service and is the food free?

A: Yes. Signing up for texts is free (message and data rates may apply) and the food after events would be free. 

Q: Is this only for students?

A: No. Anyone at UC Merced can participate in the texting service by texting “FOOD” to 85523. Additionally, anyone ordering food for Lakeside catered events, can donate food. 

Q: Is it first come, first serve? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Is there a limit to how much I can take? 

A: Yes. We ask participants to take one serving so that others can participate. However, if others don’t show up to collect food left overs, we wouldn’t mind if you take more. Just don’t let that food go to waste!

Q: How often will I be receiving notifications?

A: It will vary. Texts will be sent out whenever an event is registered as a No Food Left Behind Event. 

Q: Do I need my CatCard? 

A: You won’t need a CatCard to collect food, but certain events may require it. We advise bringing it. 

Q: Do I need to bring my own container? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Can I bring food containers to other events? 

A: Ask the event organizer. Currently, this program is limited to Lakeside Catered Events.

Q: Can I still get food even if I didn’t bring a container? 

A: Caterers likely will not have containers for you so it is advised to bring your own. Maybe keep it in your bag or backpack!

Q: Where can I find food safety information for leftovers?

A: The USDA has some helpful information on leftovers and food safety. 

Q: How can I find more food resources on campus?

A: Please visit the Basic Needs website for more information on food resources at UC Merced.