This School is Turning Leftovers into Take-Home Meals for Kids in Need

This program helps kids, their families and cuts down on food waste.

By: Amanda Mushro

Photo by: Twitter: @Jim_WGEM

Twitter: @Jim_WGEM

For many students, school isn’t just a place to learn, it’s also the place where they can count on breakfast and lunch every weekday. Knowing this, teachers and administrators at Woodland Elementary School in Indiana wanted to make sure that their low-income students had enough to eat on the weekends. So, the school partnered with a food rescue organization called Cultivate and created a program that ensures kids in need will not go hungry when they aren’t in school.

Officials were aware that food was being wasted at the end of every school day, so rather than simply tossing produce, they “rescued” the food.

“We rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies or large food-service businesses, like the school system,” Jim Conklin from Cultivate told a local news station. “And we take that well-prepared food and combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it.”

Now, until the end of the school year, 20 students at Woodland Elementary will go home every Friday with a backpack containing eight individually wrapped frozen meals.

The program is officially called “The Backpack Program.”

Angel Null is a mom with two kids that attend Woodland Elementary. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, she spoke about her husband being laid off last fall and her family’s inevitable financial struggles.

"There's times where it’s been just peanut butter and jelly," she tells the Post. Now, thanks to the Backpack Program, her kids are coming home with frozen meals to keep their bellies full over the weekend. "There's a peace of mind to know there's something in the fridge."

In America, 13 million children live in homes that don’t regularly have food. The teachers and school administrators at Woodland Elementary saw a need to help their students and came up with a solution that not only ensured kids were fed while in school but also when they are home. This programs also cuts down on food waste, which is great for our environment. Hopefully, their creative solution will inspire other school districts to adopt similar programs.

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