The last two weeks of the school year, Fortville Elementary School’s student council piloted a food rescue program that will be launched district-wide in the fall of 2016. Students place any packaged, unopened/untampered food in marked bins, which is then collected daily and donated to the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in Greenfield. Some of the foods collected were: milk, cheese sticks, yogurts, crackers, packaged fruits and vegetables.
There are a few important factors to teach students who are helping with the food rescue mission at Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation (MVCSC). Students are never pressured to donate food they would like to eat. They are encouraged to donate their packaged, unopened food that they do not want to eat.
Besides the primary benefit of helping people that the soup kitchen serves, there are additional reasons for schools to pursue the food rescue program. Students are allowed to select food from the donation bin for themselves. This can provide another sanitary option of free food for hungry students.
Mt. Vernon Schools will also be helping reduce the methane gas produced in landfills, which is 21 times more harmful to the environment than CO2 gas. Too much methane gas prevents heat from escaping the atmosphere and can lead to global warming. The government acknowledges schools as a participant of the K-12 Food Rescue Program as they are protecting the environment from methane gas emissions.
MVCSC is working with the health department to ensure all food is being collected and maintained in a safe and sanitary way. All foods are collected daily in bins marked with different food categories, thus allowing the milk/dairy bin to be kept cool with ice and the prepackaged items to be room temperature. All food is collected from the donation bins and placed in coolers, freezers and dry storage marked “Food Rescue Items Only,” which keeps the collected food separate from cafeteria food.
The food will be collected and delivered at least once a week to the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen by local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, as well as volunteers (including a retired MVCSC teacher and several parents). MVCSC is proud to partner with these organizations and volunteers to provide food for those in need.
Schools are now protected under the 1996 Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which provides liability protection when donating food to a non-profit. If the food product is donated in good faith, the schools are protected from civil and criminal liability.
The K-12 Food Rescue program is an organization that helps connect schools with agencies who distribute the packaged cafeteria foods not eaten. Additional information can be found at www.k12foodrescue.com.
MVCSC is looking forward to repurposing leftover packaged food for those in need, and appreciates the partnership with the delivery personnel as well as the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen. In addition to providing academic excellence, MVCSC strives to provide students with philanthropic and character-building opportunities, teaching students how to be a good stewards of the earth and help those in need.