School Cafeteria Turns Leftover Food Into Frozen Take-Home Meals For Kids

A school district from Indiana and a non-profit food rescue team came together to ensure children have food during the weekends.

They made sure the leftover food from the school’s cafeteria doesn’t go to waste. Instead, it’s given for free to children who may not have sufficient food for the weekend.

The Elkhart Community Schools and the non-profit Cultivate teamed up for the creation of a pilot program.

For the purposes of the program, they send weekend meals with a small group of students at the Woodland Elementary in Elkhart School.

What Does the Pilot Program Include?

Approximately around 20 children go home during the weekends with a backpack full of 8 frozen meals made with leftover food from the cafeteria that was set for the lunches but wasn’t served.

The goal of the program is to spread throughout other schools in the district.

According to Jim Conklin from Cultivate, the organization gets food from several sources actually.

They rescue food which has been prepped but never served by food service businesses, catering companies, and now, school cafeterias.

The unused food is then prepped into portable frozen dinners for children to take in their homes. The meals are packed in recyclable containers.

There’s been a similar initiative launched by Cultivate at a nearby school Madison STEAM Academy where they serve around 100 students with food from donors such as the University of Notre Dame.

Who’s Benefitting from the Program Currently?

For now, 20 elementary students are using the pilot program.

They get home 8 frozen meals every Friday for the entire 2019.  

Natalie Bickel who works at the student services in the district claims this move was quite obvious since at the Elkhart Community Schools, food waste is common.

They didn’t know what to do with the surplus food, but someone came and rescued it.

The Elkhart Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy assisted in the launching of the pilot program. Melissa Ramey who’s a member of the academy says the program is already making a huge impact.

She’s proud of this as it was heartbreaking seeing some children going home for the weekends without sufficient food to eat. Unfortunately, statistics shows that more than 30 million children in America rely solely on the free food they get in their schools for at least one meal per day.

One mother whose son and daughter go to this school said that it’s not been easy as a mother to two. ‘Sometimes, it’s just been butter and jelly.’

Many people on social media applauded this decision and said that the program is wonderful.





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