Our Neighbors: “Lexington’s Diamond Middle School Launches Food Rescue Program”

Original post from the Patch – 

By Samantha Mercado, Patch Staff, Jan 6, 2020

The program’s objective is to “repurpose” untainted, well-preserved foods by donating them to nearby food pantries, soup kitchens, etc.

LEXINGTON, MA — On January 2, Diamond Middle School launched the Lexington Public School’s Food Rescue Program. The goal of the program is to aid in reducing food waste while helping tackle the issue of food insecurity. The program is anticipated to expand district-wide in the future, pending the outcome of the pilot program.

In Massachusetts alone, 616,090 people struggle with hunger and 159,950 are children according to Feeding America’s 2019 numbers. The program’s objective is to “repurpose” untainted, well-preserved foods by donating them to nearby food pantries, soup kitchens or shelters as needed. Food Link, out of Arlington, will be picking up the food and distributing it for donation.

The Food Rescue Program is a collaborative effort by Whitson’s Food Services staff, school staff, Lexington Public Schools Green Teams (LPSGT) parent volunteers, Food Link, and the Lexington Office of Public Health. The program is overseen by the Office of Public Health.

School staff & LPSGT parent volunteers will work with students to familiarize them with the program by teaching them how to properly preserve the food, and explaining the importance of reducing food waste. The Lexington Office of Public Health has approved the training protocols for school staff.

In 2014, the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection established a commercial organics food waste ban, applicable to commercial food establishments and processors producing more than 1 ton of food waste per week. Although public schools generating less than 1 ton of food waste per week are not mandated to divert food waste through this ban, we will now be ahead of the curve should the state commercial waste ban expand to include smaller generators of food waste.

School Food Donation Programs

Original post from The Green Team News – 
December 2019.

Are you interested in making sure that wasted food from your school cafeteria does not end up in the trash? THE GREEN TEAM has resources to help your school implement a program to donate uneaten prepared or packaged food. The following information can help you start or expand a food donation program:

  • Most categories of food can be donated. Massachusetts law provides protection from liability for the donation of food that is ‘apparently wholesome’ without visible quality issues, as well as for food that is past date, so long as that food was handled in accordance with state food safety regulations. For more information about Liability Protection, see the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic fact sheet.
  • Involving students in your food donation program is a great way to educate them about food security issues and the importance of reducing wasted food. Form food recovery teams made up of students that help educate their peers on which food items can be donated and which can be composted. These student teams can also help with donation collection and drop-off.
  • Share tables are a great way to reduce the amount of wasted food and encourage the consumption of food served in the cafeteria. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education describes how to implement a share table program to safely share uneaten packaged food and whole fruits in the cafeteria. The State of Vermont also has a tip sheet on this topic.
  • For more information on establishing a food donation program, visit the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts Food Donation Guidance page. Additionally, THE GREEN TEAM Food Waste Reduction page offers detailed guidance on starting a program to divert wasted food from disposal.

GN Presents: ‘Food Recovery: Why is it important?’

Join Green Newton for the Earth Day presentation ‘Food Recovery: Why is it important?’ on Monday, April 22 at 7pm in the Druker Auditorium of the Newton Free Library (330 Homer St., Newton).

Americans waste as much as 40% of the food produced each day – enough to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium. Yet, one in seven Americans are food insecure. Wasted food expends precious resources and contributes to climate change. The Town of Wellesley is developing partnerships and programs to address the food waste problem.

Ellen Korpi, previously the Chair, and then Vice Chair, of the Sustainable Energy Committee in the town of Wellesley, and Marybeth Martello, Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Administrator, will present on food waste diversion and food rescue programs involving Wellesley residents and schools, area colleges, the Wellesley Food Pantry, and the Cambridge-based non-profit, Food For Free.

Former Newton City Councilor, Amy Mah Sangiolo, will also present, and describe exploratory efforts to develop a similar program in Newton. The goal is to work with the Newton Public Schools and its food service vendor, and other non-profits, to expand food recovery networks throughout the Greater Boston Area.