An Elementary School in Indiana Turns Leftover Cafeteria Food into Meals for Kids in Need

updated Aug 6, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images)

An Indiana elementary school has found a smart, charitable way to cut down on waste: It’s transforming all leftover cafeteria food into meals kids in need can take home on the weekends.

Woodland Elementary School partnered with a food rescue organization called Cultivate to create the program.

“Mostly we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies or large food-service businesses, like the school system,” a representative from Cultivate told local news station WSBT. “And we take that well-prepared food and combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it.”

At Woodland Elementary, students in low-income families typically get free breakfast and lunch, but the school district worried that when the weekend rolled around, they’d go home hungry. Thanks to the efforts of Cultivate, 20 students at Woodland will now go home every Friday with a backpack containing eight individually wrapped frozen meals, until the end of the school year.

Natalie Bickel, head of the student services department at Woodland Elementary, admitted that the cafeteria was “wasting a lot of food,” but now that food is going “right back to students.” Bickel wasn’t going to tolerate any of her students going home without basic necessities, so she teamed up with the town’s Chamber of Commerce to form the Cultivate partnership.

Melissa Ramey, who works for the Chamber of Commerce, called the situation “heartbreaking,” but it’s heartening to see that the whole town came together to give these kids a chance at happier, healthier lives. Of course, no kid should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, but this short-term solution (which is environmentally friendly, no less!) is a step in the right direction.

The school saw a problem and found quick a way to fix it — no bureaucracy to work around, no squabbling over money. Real families will see immediate benefits, which seems so rare these days. This really is the kind of upbeat news story the world needs right now.