"Best Practices" Manual
- Introduction -
Report on the Food Recovery and
Gleaning Grants Project
The results are in! Secretary Dan Glickmans Food Recovery and Gleaning Initiative has achieved another milestone. Twelve nationwide school districts that received funds in July 1998 through one-year Food Recovery Cooperative Agreements have completed their projects and filed their reports. The results have been compiled into this "Best Practices" manual by USDAs Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
This manual describes how the school districts used their USDA funds to help them recover food from their cafeterias and donate it to the needy. It addresses how school food service staff developed systems to recover, store, and donate the recovered food. It explains how partnerships were formed with local non-profit agencies in the community, and how school districts were able to identify and overcome obstacles to developing a school-based food recovery program. Finally, it shows how students can take an active role in this effort, and how food recovery and gleaning can be integrated into a schools curriculum.
At the time the funds were awarded to these 12 schools, USDA estimated that over 30 million Americans were in danger of going hungry and 96 billion pounds of food were being wasted at the retail and food service levels. These facts fueled Agriculture Secretary Glickman and Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Watkins to start a food recovery and gleaning initiative in 1996. As a part of this initiative, USDA awarded up to $10,000 to each of the 12 school districts throughout the country. This money was provided to promote gleaning and food recovery efforts at the school level. The school districts that received the funds were chosen based on applications which detailed their ability to recover food cost-effectively, develop best practices that could be shared with other schools, cooperate with non-profit organizations within the community, and involve students in community service.
Schools are natural choices for food recovery efforts. Many cafeterias often have some leftover food that cannot be reused in spite of the most careful planning. In addition, food service managers have expertise to handle and store recovered food until it can be delivered safely to organizations that serve the needy. It is important to note that food recovery should never become a financial drain on a school. Staff should be trained not to overproduce in order to have food to share with the needy. Leftovers should be utilized in future school meals as much as possible. Only when remaining food cannot be used by the school is food recovery for the needy a viable option.
This manual contains descriptions of school food recovery efforts that can serve as models for other school districts in the country who want to get involved in donating excess food to the needy. These donations, although relatively small, can make a significant contribution towards reducing hunger in the local community and, when multiplied by the number of school districts across the nation, make a substantial contribution towards reducing hunger in America.
Below is a list of ideas and suggestions that schools believe are important and should be considered when initiating or beginning a food recovery project.
Receive approval from school administrators.
Involve your entire community.
Make food safety a priority.
Establish and maintain good scheduling and record-keeping systems - organization is key.
Use the Internet to find useful information on funding sources that can be used to support hunger efforts; here are a few suggested places to start.
Share your success.
Be patient and plan carefully. Time and energy are needed to start a food recovery program, but one that is well-established can be maintained indefinitely with moderate effort and minimal expense.
Remember, small amounts of food from each school in the district add up to large amounts in the overall community.
The key to success is to involve appropriate school administrators, school lunch managers, students, the community and health department personnel.
Above all, keep an open mind, be flexible, and keep the goal in sight!
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Last Updated: 04/01/08