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A school in Indiana is offering leftover cafeteria food to underprivileged families


They said that they realized they could be using food that would otherwise go to waste to help people

Image source: WSBT-TV screenshot

Woodland Elementary School in Elkhart, Indiana, has started a program to provide underprivileged students with meals they can take home from leftover cafeteria food.

What's the story?

A nonprofit called Cultivate partnered with the school to help prepare the food. Cultivate collects extra food three times a week from the school that would otherwise have gone to waste, and then sorts and repackages it.

"Over-preparing is just part of what happens," Jim Conklin with Cultivate told WSBT-TV. "We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it." He said that people don't always think of schools when they think of food waste.

WSBT reported that under this new program, 20 students would be getting backpacks every Friday during the school year. Cultivate puts eight frozen meals in each backpack.

The school district hopes other schools will also join the program.

Nancy Bickel from student services told WSBT that the school had been inadvertently wasting a lot of food.

"There wasn't anything to do with the food," she said. "So they came to the schools three times a week and rescued our food. So they're going back to cultivate, processing the food, and it's coming right back to our students."

Melissa Ramey from the Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Academy said that the program was having a "big impact."

"I am proud of that," she said. "It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don't have anything to eat."

Anything else?

"It's been a struggle as a mom," one mother whose two young children now get food through the program told the Washington Post. "There's times where it's been just peanut butter and jelly."

She says that the program has changed the way that her children eat.

"There's a peace of mind to know there's something in the fridge," she said.

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