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School district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for students

Posted: 8:37 AM, Apr 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-03 13:57:40-04
School district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for students

ELKHART, Ind. — An Indiana school district is taking steps to make sure kids have enough to eat.

Elkhart Community Schools is teaming up with a food rescue in South Bend, Indiana, for a pilot program at Woodland Elementary School.

Students usually get breakfast and lunch at school. But on the weekends at home, some students may be without food. That's where nonprofit Cultivate comes in.

"Mostly we rescue food that's been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system. You don't always think of a school system,” said Jim Conklin of Cultivate. “And over-preparing is just part of what happens. And we take that well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it.”

The pilot food program is now providing 20 students at Woodland Elementary with eight individual frozen meals stuffed into a backpack every Friday until the end of school.

“We were wasting a lot of food. There wasn't anything to do with the food and so they came to schools three times a week and rescued our food," said Natalie Bickel, the supervisor of student services at Elkhart. "So, they're going back to Cultivate, processing the food and coming right back to our students."

The Elkhart Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy helped get the pilot programming going.

"It really just all came together and it's making a big impact so I’m really proud of that," said Melissa Ramey, a member of the Leadership Academy. “ It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and they don't have anything to eat."