"Best Practices" Manual For
For the past several years the Iowa City Community School District food service department has had a food recovery operation in place whereby schools occasionally provided foods to the Salvation Army. Thus, when food was available, schools took the excess products that could not be reused to the Salvation Army to use in the evening meal provided by that organization. Also, in the past, the schools excess fresh produce from the preceding winter and spring breaks had always been taken to the Iowa Citys community crisis center food panty.
The Iowa City Community School District's food service departments provide food to 21 school locations plus several contracted meal sites. The Iowa City Community School District had a food rescue program in place, but decided to use the USDA funds to identify how the districts food service departments and secondary students could best assist an anti-hunger organization known as Table to Table. Table to Table is a nonprofit organization which services an area food pantry, four child care programs, three soup kitchens, emergency and domestic violence shelters, three senior citizen programs and a jobs program for the homeless.
Student volunteers were recruited from Iowa City Community School Districts government classes whose class schedule corresponded to the end of the lunch period. They received training in safe food handling practices that included hand washing, proper use of gloves, personal hygiene, food packaging, labeling, and storage techniques. A training video from the American Culinary Federation was used to teach the students and staff about safe food handling practices. Reinforcing safe food handling practices for the end user of the food recovered was accomplished by using labels with "use by date" and reheating instructions placed on the containers or pans of food. Food received from each location was primarily frozen and transported in insulated containers. At the high school level some students who became involved with food recovery served as volunteer drivers for Table to Table even after the school year ended.
The USDA funds were used to purchase equipment (transport pans and carriers), a freezer for Table to Table to store their frozen food, and training materials on safe handling procedures for the staff and students. These purchases will continue to allow safe and easy transportation of recovered food. At each secondary building, there is either an individual or student group committed to the recovery project so there will be continuity from year to year as more students are recruited as volunteers.
The Iowa City Community School District would like to share the following tips on operating a food recovery and gleaning project:
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Last Updated: 09/26/12