A school district is taking steps to make sure kids have enough to eat by turning unused cafeteria food into take-home meals.
Elkhart Community Schools students usually get breakfast and lunch at school, but on the weekends at home, they may be without food.
That’s where the South Bend-based non-profit Cultivate comes in: it provides weekend meals to a small group of students in the elementary school pilot program.
“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, Cultivate. “You don’t always think of a school.”
It rescues the unused food.
“Over-preparing is just part of what happens,” said Conklin. “We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it.”
Twenty students will receive a backpack with eight individual frozen meals every Friday until the end of school.
“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food,” said Natalie Bickel, student services. “There wasn’t anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy Commerce helped get the pilot program going.
“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.”
It’s making a big difference in the lives of the students receiving the meals. The Elkhart school system wants to expand the food program to other schools.