The Elkhart School District of Indiana just started saving their wasted food and repackaging and freezing it. Instead of simply throwing the uneaten food in the trash like they were doing, they are sending it home with at-risk students so they for sure have something to eat on the weekends.
The school district partnered with Cultivate, a food rescue group. Cultivate collects, repackages and freezes the unused food from daily school lunches.
For the rest of the school year, 20 at-risk students from Woodland Elementary School will get a backpack every Friday that has eight frozen meals for weekends at home.
“It’s making a big impact,” Melissa Ramey from Chamber Leadership Academy told WSBT. “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.”
In the Elkhart School District, many students depend heavily on the free breakfasts and lunches that are provided by the school. Those meals are often their main and only source of food. When the students are at home on the weekends, oftentimes they go without eating until Monday.
According to statistics, Elkhart County is 89.5 percent white, about 6 percent Black and 16 percent Hispanic. The poverty rate among children under 18 is about 15 percent. There are over 18,000 kids in the county that qualify for a free or reduced lunch, so the district still has a long way to go to start helping the other tens of thousands of kids who likely don’t get food or healthy foot on the weekends.
Elkhart County is just a small example of a country-wide problem. More than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes. A “food insecure” home means the family frequently doesn’t have enough food to eat. One in six children in the U.S. face hunger.