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Indiana Schools Package Leftover Cafeteria Food Into Meals For Kids In Need

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No child should be without access to food. They shouldn’t feel hungry at home, but more than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes. That’s why in April 2019 administrators in Indiana’s Elkhart School District partnered with a non-profit organization to send leftover school cafeteria food home with children in need. This project is inspiring change, one meal at a time.

Feeling Hungry At Home

The Elkhart School District serves breakfast and lunch at school, but there are several children who aren’t fed properly while they’re at home at night and on the weekends. The school district partnered with Cultivate, a non-profit organization that collects leftover food and repackages it into take-home meals for the children. This includes food from the schools’ cafeterias or donated food from catering companies, large food businesses, and more. Natalie Bickel, representative of the school district’s student services department, noticed school lunches were going to waste. Now there’s a way to repurpose the food.

Preventing Over-Preparing

Many school cafeteria workers over-prepare breakfast and lunch meals. “Over-preparing is just part of what happens,” said Jim Conklin, Cultivate’s board president. But that started to change once the non-profit organization stepped in to find a way to repurpose the leftover food.

“We take over-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it,” Conklin added. Now the over-prepared food and leftovers go back to the people they were originally prepared for: the kids.

‘Making A Big Impact’

School officials prepare backpacks filled with food to children in need. Thanks to the school district, and Cultivate’s generosity, students no longer have to worry about where their next meal will come from. “It’s making a big impact,” said Melissa Ramey, who works at Elkhart’s Chamber of Commerce. “It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don’t have anything to eat.”

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