"Best Practices" Manual For
The Keystone Oaks School District partnered with an active field gleaning agency, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (GPCFB). The school introduced their students to food recovery and gleaning through an arrangement with the GPCFB for a field gleaning trip. The GPCFB supervised approximately 80 students sent to two local farms to glean wholesome excess green beans and tomatoes left in the fields. Once the food recovery and gleaning spark was struck, it ignited the students fire to work as volunteers at the community food bank. The students volunteered at the food banks warehouse to repackage the gleaned food. The food was then distributed to families in need throughout the food bank neighborhood. The food bank reported that the Keystone Oaks students involved in the food recovery and gleaning activities were "motivated, focused, and full of fun." The students showed further interest in the food recovery and gleaning project as they wanted to know the larger picture -- where the food goes and who gets it, etc.
In addition to field gleaning, the students toured school cafeteria kitchens and discussed safe handling procedures for recovering excess school lunch food. Students also learned about nutrition, sanitation, the spread of germs and disease relating to salmonella, e-coli, food poisoning, proper storage temperatures, shelf life and their relationship to the food recovery program. The Keystone Oaks School District food managers discussed with the students the acceptable types of excess school lunch food that was available for donation. Also, they met with the Allegheny County Health Departments inspector for a presentation on sanitation and food safety.
The GPCFB and the schools worked out a routine to have the cafeteria workers wrap, freeze, and store the excess school lunch food. The school district arranged with the GPCFB driver to collect all of the food weekly and transport it to the food bank for distribution to the needy. As a part of the schools curriculum on food and nutrition, the students prepared a different soup each month for themselves from in-season vegetables and other food items. The students are now donating the soup to the food bank to help feed the needy.
The Keystone Oaks School District used their USDA funds to purchase food storage containers and materials, pay for miscellaneous food recovery expenses (such as staff help), repackaging costs, and field gleaning bus trips.
An idea that the school proposed, and is considering for the future, is a garden project that would give students "hands on" experience to grow food for the hungry. The responsibilities would include preparing the soil in the fall, purchasing supplies, installing a fence, and paying a summer crew to maintain and water the garden. Other schools may want to consider soliciting public or private donations to assist with starting a similar project. If there are other schools interested in pursuing a project of this nature, they should contact Keystone Oaks School District for additional information.
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Last Updated: 04/01/08