A new program at the Elkhart school district in Indiana is turning food that would otherwise go to waste into take-home meals for kids, WSBT reports.
Elkhart students have the option to get both breakfast and lunch from the cafeteria. For some kids, the meals the school provides them are the only steady source of food in their lives.
The school system has teamed up with the local food rescue Cultivate to develop a way to keep kids fed when they're not at school. As is the case in most school cafeterias, the cooks at Elkhart over-prepare food so no kid goes unfed, and then toss out whatever isn't eaten by the end of the day. Now, Cultivate visits the cafeteria three times a week to salvage any perfectly good leftovers and package them into frozen meals.
At the end of each week, 20 students from food-insecure homes leave school with a backpack filled with eight frozen meals—enough to get them through the weekend. Cultivate and Elkhart are currently doing a trial of the program at Woodland Elementary with plans to expand it to more schools in the district.
For some kids, finding food outside of school isn't their only problem: The debts that pile up for students who can't pay cafeteria prices is also an issue in the U.S. Fundraisers have been launched in recent years to pay off tens of thousands of dollars worth of lunch debt in school districts around the country.