Many parents prepare a lunch for their child to take to school or simply send them on their way with money for a school lunch. Unfortunately, this is not such an easy task for the parents out there that could be struggling financially. Not every child returns home from school to find a well stocked pantry and dinner on the table. Reports show that one in six children in the United States do not know where their next meal is coming from. Some creative Indiana cafeteria workers came up with a way to remedy the problem, according to Today.
Elkhart Community Schools recently began working with a nonprofit based program called Cultivate to not only ensure that all their students will have a hot meal to enjoy at the end of the day, but to also prevent unnecessary food waste. Cafeteria workers realized that regardless of planning beforehand, they typically prepared more food than necessary for an average school day. This excess food would usually be thrown out. Rather than letting all the food go to waste, they have begun using it to prepare take-home meal kits for their students in need.
The kits include healthy, well balanced meals that can be frozen and later warmed up for dinner when the student gets home. Those that are eligible to receive the meals are given an insulated backpack at the end of the school day packed full with as many as eight kits at at time. The food that is used to prepare the kits doesn’t just come from school cafeterias, but other local business that are also trying to keep any child from having to go to bed hungry. Such organizations include Notre Dame University, as well as different local restaurants and churches.
Jim Conklin, co-founder and board president of Cultivate, explained their goal with the program.
“Our first focus is to collect food that has been prepared but never served from large food service organizations/businesses. These organizations feed people on a daily basis and many times they have surplus food because the number of people they feed every day varies and is somewhat unpredictable.”
Natalie Bickel, Supervisor of Student Services at Elkhart Community Schools, explained that while schools can ensure their students are getting fed adequately during the school day, their meals might not be as predictable at home. These meal kits can help put these kids’ minds at rest.
“The nutritional needs of our students often extend beyond the school day,” she said.