A child’s opportunity to have a bright and productive tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. In America, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal. More than 12 million kids in the United States alone is facing hunger. For many, getting the energy they need to learn and grow can be a day-to-day challenge.
A school district in Indiana is looking to make effective change to this cycle of childhood hunger. They are launching a program that would allow schools to package up catering leftovers and send them home with students.
Many students enrolled in Indiana’s Elkhart School District receive free or discounted prices on cafeteria food during the school week. The resources provided are to ensure that the children don’t go hungry, which is a big possibility after they go home for the weekend.
Elkhart School District is working in collaboration with nonprofit organization, Cultivate Culinary School & Catering, and other food-service providers. They will be launching a pilot program to send students home with unserved food from the cafeteria and local catering companies in the form of frozen take home meals. This is also a major step in decreasing food waste!
Natalie Bickel, who works for the school district’s student services department, said officials noticed they were wasting a lot of cafeteria food, and thought there was nothing to do about it. Now, Cultivate comes to the school three times a week to salvage the food.
“Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system,” Cultivate’s Jim Conklin explained to a local news station. “Over-preparing is just part of what happens. We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it.”
At one school in the district, 20 students will receive eight meals every Friday to be taken home for the weekend with the pilot program. This will continue until the end of the school year.
There has been an outpouring of approval for the new programs. Many people are applauding the school districts efforts to ensure their students are well fed.
“It’s making a big impact,” said Melissa Ramey, who works for the town’s Chamber of Commerce. “It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don’t have anything to eat.”