The students, parents, and administration of Little River Elementary took the initiative to begin a Food Recovery Program at their school two months ago and the program is off to a terrific start! Since March, when the program was launched, the school has provided the pantry with over 650 pounds of “recovered” food.
Basically, the program starts with the students. Rather than throwing away food that they would have otherwise not eaten, they are setting it aside at the end of their lunch. This includes unopened items such as milk cartons, chip bags, and fruit cups. The food is saved and stored by school personnel until a weekly volunteer collects the items and brings them to the pantry. The pantry then distributes these items to families in need. Some of the items are donated right back to local LCPS students through the pantry’s weekend backpack programs.
This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. It is a great example of the school system, LCPS, working with local community organizations to provide for citizens in our county and at the same time reduce waste. In 2011, the Virginia Legislature introduced the School Food Recovery Act to allow schools to donate leftover food and to protect them from any liability. LCPS launched a pilot program in 2014 with several schools and last December, the School Board voted to expand the program. Food recovery can also be done with school breakfast programs and CASA. Schools wishing to begin their own Food Recovery program should first speak with the principal of their school and then can reach out to the Food Pantry closest to them.
We are so grateful for the work of the staff and students at Little River Elementary and we look forward to working with other Dulles South schools in the future to reduce waste and reduce food insecurity in Dulles South. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information.