Elementary School Making Sure Kids Don't Go Hungry By Rescuing Food Waste

Of all the no-brainer good ideas out there, feeding hungry kids ought to be up there with fire departments and hospitals.

Whatever the situation, it's not the kid's fault if they don't get enough to eat. And going hungry unleashes a horror show of domino effects for kids.

Hunger in kids has been studied extensively, and it all shows that it's an awful, awful situation.

Unsplash | pan xiaozhen

Malnutrition sets back growth and development, both physically and intellectually, as well as leaving kids with weakened immune systems. What's more, the stress created by going hungry also wreaks havoc, especially where learning and brain development are concerned.

Simply put, all kids need access to good, healthy food.

Generally speaking, schools do the best they can.

Understanding that hungry kids usually can't focus on learning, schools will usually either offer food in the cafeteria or have snack programs to make sure kids get some nutrition during the day.

At Woodland Elementary in Elkhart, Indiana, kids get both breakfast and lunch. And now, kids in need there won't have to worry so much about what to eat when they're at home.

That's because of a pilot program at the school that seeks to rescue food from being wasted.

Facebook | Elkhart Community Schools

Woodland Elementary has partnered with a local non-profit called Cultivate, which goes around to restaurants, catering services, and even school cafeterias, to gather perfectly good, never-served food that would otherwise be wasted and turn it into meals for people in need.

"Mostly we rescue food that's been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system," said Cultivate's president, Jim Conklin.

YouTube | Cultivate Culinary

"You don't always think of a school. Over-preparing is just part of what happens. We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it," he told WSBT.

Woodland was one of the schools Cultivate would source some of their food from.

YouTube | Cultivate Culinary

"At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food," Natalie Bickel of student services said. "There wasn't anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food."

Now, some of that would-be waste will be going home with some students.

In the pilot program, the focus is on making sure kids have something good to eat outside school hours.


So, every Friday for the rest of the school year, 20 kids will take home a backpack containing eight individually frozen meals, prepared from rescued food by Cultivate, to eat over the weekend.

The local Chamber of Commerce also deserves some credit for getting the pilot program off the ground.


And they're happy they did. "It's making a big impact," said the Chamber's Melissa Ramey. "I am proud of that. It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don't have anything to eat."

School officials in Elkhart are understandably excited about the program.

Facebook | Elkhart Community Schools

Even before the school year is out, the Elkhart school system is already looking at expanding the program to other schools in the area.

h/t WSBT

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