Heard Every Day in Privileged America
- Ewwww, that's yucky, I'm not gonna eat that stuff!
- I'm so full, I can't eat another bite.
- I hate mystery meat, I'm not eating any of it.
- No, we're finished, you can take all of this away. No, we don't need a to-go box.
Heard Every Day in Underprivileged America
- Mom, I'm hungry
- Daddy, isn't there anything else to eat?
- Jeez, that's it, that's the last of the money, now I gotta figure out how we're gonna eat
- There's got to be a food kitchen or shelter serving meals somewhere in this town.
Are you bothered by the tremendous amount of food we don't finish eating, throw out because it's not fresh or we're tired of it? There's a huge amount of food wasted, every day, in our country while so many of our fellow citizens don't have enough to eat. The dichotomy is difficult to wrap your head around. At the end of this post, you will see a way others are curing hunger that WORKS!
Not too long ago, I read about an exciting new program involving San Diego students. It's an amazing idea. And it could, easily, be incorporated in every school district across the country. Its advantages and to numerous to count. Plus, its adaptable to any community, large or small.
Whats not to love about a program that:
- Saves community and school money
- Decreases waste
- Lessens landfill use
- Fights hunger
- Helps non-profit organizations
- Improves student activism and compassion
- AND serves the needs of the underprivileged.
The article discussed a concept begun in the San Diego Unified School District. It was initiated at the start of the 2017 school season. In the program, schools partnered with an organization called Feeding San Diego. The idea was to reduce waste AND fight hunger - at the same time! They called their fledgling program Love Food Not Waste.
Prior to Fall 2017, the school district only saved food that would've been thrown out over school holidays and provided it to non-profit organizations. They, soon, realized the amount of food going to waste during the regular school year was much greater. So they found a way to incorporate their daily school lunch waste too.
And the entire amazing program was born!
Now, all food, year round, left over after all students have been served, isn't thrown into the garbage. It goes back to the kitchens and is repackaged as meals for nonprofit organizations. Student volunteers are involved packaging the meals, picking up and transporting the food to the groups involved.
At the time, the school district had taken 30,000 pounds of food, that would have gone into the dumpster and then into some landfill, and turned it into 25,000 meals.
The meals go to people in eleven non-profit programs - rescue missions, shelters, a Ronald McDonald House, a care center for mentally ill adults and a residential recovery center. What a great model for other schools to emulate - reducing waste and fighting hunger!
The school district uses prep kitchens in 11 of its schools. It has plans to expand the program to all 19 schools in the district. As a result, the number of nonprofit organizations it can serve will also increase.
There are so many people in this country who need food - yet so much food is wasted every day. Prior to the start of the program, leftover school food was tossed into the trash, helping no one. Besides providing meals, the program has resulted in other unexpected benefits for the non-profit organizations. It has decreased or eliminated heavy food costs from their program budgets which, in turn, has freed up funds to provide more services for those in need.
For example, the residential care center, houses 40 adults with mental illness. A big percentage of their budget was spent on meals, snacks and drinks. Now there's an extra $3000 a month to add or improve programs for the residents.
And there's been additional, far-reaching effects of the program. School officials, students and cafeteria staff are, now, more cognizant of how the amount of food waste adds up. The total food prepared is, now, closely scrutinized. Staff, also, pays closer attention to student likes and dislikes and how this, too, affects waste. The results are improved meal planning to serve food more popular with students.
Administration, staff and students saw how many meals could be made from the food that would've been wasted. It provided a whole new perspective to food prep.
It's a win-win program model - reducing waste and fighting hunger.
In addition to serving the hungry, the students are learning awareness, sustainability, and compassion - and they love the new meal plans!
You can read more about the program HERE
There's no way to achieve a perfect balance of absolutely no waste in a school. Schools must prepare enough meals so that every student is fed without running out of food. But, these days, at least, in San Diego - any food that must be cooked as a margin, but is left over, can go to an excellent cause.
Final Thoughts on Living Better by Helping Others
Can you imagine what would happen if all school districts did what the San Diego Unified School District has done? What if most schools, in the U.S., packaged their food to be distributed to the hungry? What about even half?
Playing this one forward could have a major impact on hunger in this country! Plus, it teaches our young people to give back, plus reduce waste. Anyway, I see it, it's a PLUS, PLUS, PLUS! And, thats good math.
What do you think? Would this work in your school district? Are you aware of any other creative ideas that combine feeding the hungry and preventing food waste. Please add your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
If you think that passing along this idea might benefit others please share through social media
An important footnote: We must ensure the food we eat, serve to our children and pass along to those in need is safe AND healthy. For an article that discusses toxic mercury found in food and nutrition safety, click HERE. If you have an interest in nutrition and health another useful article on ensuring a healthy diet, by avoiding food myths, can be found HERE.
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