A school cafeteria has turned leftover food from lunchtime into frozen take-home meals for kids so that they don’t go hungry over the weekends.
An Indiana school district has teamed up with a local food rescue program which makes sure that cafeteria leftovers aren’t being wasted and are instead, being put to good use. Kids who come from disadvantaged families may not be provided with the right nutrients when at home over the weekends, so they will be provided with frozen meals so this is no longer an issue.
Elkhart Community Schools and the nonprofit organisation Cultivate has teamed together to create a pilot program that means a small group of students will be sent home with weekend meals.
According to WSBT News, each child is sent home with a backpack that contains eight frozen meals that have been made with leftovers from the cafeteria, which have never been served.
Eventually, the goal is that the program will be spread to all schools across the district.
Currently, kids within the district are entitled to breakfast and lunch, but some go without proper meals on the weekend. The program aims to fill in these gaps so that everyone gets the food they need.
A spokesperson for Cultivate, Jim Conklin, said that the organisation actually gets its food from various sources.
“Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but not served by catering companies, large foodservice businesses, like the school system,” he said. “You don’t always think of a school.”
Basically, the unused food is “rescued” and turned into portable frozen dinners that kids can take up.
Conklin said: “Overpreparing is just a part of what happens.
“We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it.”
In total, 20 elementary students are benefitting from this pilot program. Every Friday, they bring home eight frozen meals and will do so until the school year has finished.
Natalie Bickel works in student services at the district and says the move was an obvious one to make.
“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food,” she explained. “This wasn’t anything to do with the food. So they came to the school threes a week and rescued the food.”
The pilot program was spearheaded to get going by the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy. Melissa Ramsey is a member and believes it has made a big impact, even just in the pilot.
And Melissa is right, school cafeterias have become much more innovative in recent years and have found many ways to feed children from disadvantaged homes.
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Some elementary schools have even introduced “share tables” which involves taking the unused food from one child and giving it to another who may need it more.