VCSC works to reduce food waste

115,000 food items were re-distributed throughout the Wabash Valley last school year.

Posted: Aug 6, 2019 10:30 PM
Updated: Aug 7, 2019 11:03 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Vigo County School Corporation is working to reduce food waste.

A partnership is in place between the Vigo County School Corporation and the Wabash Valley Food Rescue to re-distribute food from school cafeterias into the community.

Last year, nearly 115,000 items were re-distributed from 10 schools throughout the Wabash Valley.

“We were watching 50 to 60 bananas get thrown away,” Michael Jahns, a 2nd-grade teacher at Farrington Grove Elementary, said.
She was instrumental in encouraging the school administration to work towards finding a solution.

Each school cafeteria has a “seconds” table set up for students to place food items they do not wish to eat. Any student can pick up an item from the table. At the end of the lunch hour, all items that remain on the table go back into coolers. School cafeterias cannot redistribute a food item after it has been placed on a student’s plate. Volunteers from the Wabash Valley Food Rescue visit schools twice a week to collect leftover food items.

Milk, apples, bananas, and oranges are frequently donated to organizations throughout the community. Hot foods such as chicken and noodles and spaghetti are also donated.

“We worked with the health department,” Tom Lentes, VCSC Director of Food Services, said. “I sat down with them and they thought it was a great idea as long as we kept everything as safe as we could. It’s really been a community project and worked out very well.”

Allison Finzel with the Vigo County Purdue Extension Office leads this initiative with the help of volunteers. The food recovery project currently operates in ten schools, but the goal is to eventually reach every school within the Vigo County School Corporation.

Finzel said volunteers play a key role in this project. Volunteers collect food items from each participating school. Then, they deliver the items to a partnering agency. To assist with this effort, contact Finzel at the Purdue Extension Office at (812) 462-3371.

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