This is completely untouched food from just one lunch period in one school.
Before schools implemented the We Future Cycle Recycling program, this untouched food went unnoticed right into the garbage can.
However, now as additional benefit to source separating in the lunchroom this food is sorted into a share basket, ready to be consumed by either other children within the school during lunch, afterschool program or while being at the nurses office, or donating it to a local soup kitchen. Both is legal, safe and infinitely preferred over just trashing it.
We Future Cycle is often met with resistance when suggesting to donate the sorted out food. Standard practice in the school cafeterias is that if the milk runs out of date over the weekend, instead of donating it on Friday, it is being tossed on Monday, packaging at all.
Arguments given are that food service does not want to be liable should someone get sick when consuming donated food, or that it is illegal to donate tax payer sponsored food, or that it is too much work to organize the logistics around food donation.
As a matter of fact, it is not only legal, but also encouraged to donate the food. The Good Samaritan Act holds any donor harmless and We Future Cycle will pair the school up with the closest local, health department vetted soup kitchen, that will come and pick up right after lunch. A complete Win Win situation for all parties.
Click to download and read the following:
- School Food Service Recommendations for Donating Leftover Food: Child Nutrition Today
- Good Samaritan Act synopsis
- The Federal Food Donation Act of 2008
And think about the social lesson to the children if they are involved in the process.
However, the best way to avoid untouched food waste is to teach the children (and their parents) about choices and how to refuse when they do not intend to consume a food item.
In the lunchrooms we see so many children dumping the lovingly made sandwich from mom right into compost, without ever taking a bite out of it. And off they go to stand in line at the snack desk to buy chips and ice cream.
I am sure there is a better way. Let’s tackle it to make a difference.