Many of us remember school as a place we were forced to go day in and day out until the sweet refuge of summertime. However, for some kids, school is the only place where basic needs like a hot meal are satisfied. This is exactly why an Indiana school district decided to come together and find a way to provide weekend meals for families in need. Because no child should ever have to go home hungry.
An Indiana school district is being acknowledged for its innovative program which helps feed local families in need.
Elkhart Schools recently teamed up with Woodland Elementary to launch the food rescue pilot project.
Students attending Woodland Elementary typically get breakfast and lunch at school, but on the weekends, families may struggle to provide regular meals. South Bend-based non-profit Cultivatedecided to step in by giving weekend meals to a small group of students.
The program rescues unused food that would normally be wasted and turns it into take-home meals.
“Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system,” said Jim Conklin of Cultivate. “You don’t always think of a school.”
Conklin says overpreparing happens all of the time and it only makes sense to give that food back to those in need.
“Over-preparing is just part of what happens,” he said. “We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it.”
Every Friday until the end of the school year, 20 students will receive a backpack with eight individually wrapped frozen meals.
Natalie Bickel of student services says schools naturally waste a lot of food.
“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food,” she said. “There wasn’t anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food.”
The local Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy was instrumental in getting the food program off the ground.
“It’s making a big impact,” said Melissa Ramey, Chamber Leadership Academy. “I am proud of that. It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don’t have anything to eat.”
Angel Null, a mother of two children who attend Woodland Elementary, admits their family has fallen on hard times and it comforts her to know the school is helping to provide for them.
“There’s a peace of mind to know there’s something in the fridge,” Null told The Washington Post.
Elkhart schools are seeing a big difference in the lives of the students receiving meals and hope to expand their initiative to other school districts as well.