"Best Practices" Manual For
Memphis City Schools, Memphis, Tennessee received funds under a one year USDA cooperative agreement in 1998 to foster food recovery activities in their school lunch program. They partnered with the Memphis City Food Bank who used the recovered food they received from the schools to serve the needy and hungry. Initially, the Memphis City Schools held an orientation session with the Memphis Food Bank, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Departments, and cafeteria employees. Issues discussed included roles of the schools, health departments, and food banks in this food recovery project. Also, they addressed the importance of properly handling, storing and transporting the recovered food as well as food safety. Each school had a food recovery and gleaning coordinator assigned to serve as a contact person. The schools incorporated the weekly pickup of recovered foods into the existing food banks schedule. The food bank pickup eliminated the need for the schools to obtain additional trucks or drivers. The volume of food that is collected from the schools varies from week to week. "The situations change in the schools weekly," notes Ann Terrell, Director of Nutrition Services at Memphis City Schools. "Lets take Thanksgiving, for example. We gleaned food from 151 school cafeterias, and that equated to approximately one-and-a-half steamtable pans per school."
"The program is proceeding nicely," Terrell also reports, "but can still be increased, and it can be improved." "Some things work and some dont," she notes. "We had a real problem in the beginning when some people felt we should be able to glean the leftover milk." What they did not understand, she explains, is that state health regulations, "as well as health precautions, dont allow us to do that because of the possible contamination of certain foods, and the milk was one of those foods."
The Memphis City School District introduced their students to food recovery and hunger in America by integrating hunger, food recovery and nutrition activities into their curriculum. Designated students visited other schools to raise awareness and encourage students local and global to become anti-hunger advocates.
The Memphis City Schools used the USDA money to purchase such items as disposable pans and lids to transport the recovered food to the food banks throughout the Memphis area. They printed handouts for students on safe food handling procedures. The students compiled a childrens booklet titled "Food for Thought" and the schools used USDA funds to publish it. Also, the schools conducted a "Train the Trainer" workshop for managers and cafeteria employees on community nutrition and anti-hunger issues relating to food recovery. Additionally, the Memphis City Schools videotaped the schools food recovery activities for use by other schools to initiate food recovery activities in their schools. The Food Management magazine featured a full-page story about the Memphis City Schools ongoing food collection efforts and the USDA project. This story and corresponding press releases to the local media served to heighten awareness in the community of the food recovery activities. Marketing their idea is one of the groups continuing long-term goals.
The Memphis City Schools learned from the food recovery project that:
At the end of the Memphis City school year, the 152 cafeteria managers coordinated a food roundup. The kinds of food the schools collected were incomplete or broken cases of food that could not be returned to stock or foods that did not store well over the summer months. The food roundup information and instructions were sent to every school cafeteria. The Memphis City School District collected and transported the excess food to their central warehouse. The District had the food inspected for wholesomeness and donated it to the food bank.
The Memphis City Schools' students, teachers and the local community instituted a food recovery drive known as Kids Kan Food Drive. They collected cans of food to benefit the Memphis Food Bank and the hungry. Also, the school hosted and videotaped a USDA Town Hall Meeting on "How to Reduce Hunger in Our Community." It is an informational video to encourage schools to become involved in food recovery and gleaning.
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Last Updated: 09/26/12