"Best Practices" Manual For
The Food Recovery Program was a very positive thing in the Wichita Public Schools. The Food Services staff were thrilled to share excess food and not see it wasted. They fed about 4,500 people and plan to continue their win-win program during the 1999-2000 school year.
After being selected to participate in USDAs food recovery initiative, the Wichita schools began their program in September 1998. The school district trained staff in the central kitchen and school sites on food recovery procedures, food safety, food quality, and anti-hunger issues in the city. Staff contacted local shelters, soup kitchens, and food banks to collect names and phone numbers in order to facilitate daily contacts.
By October 1998, food recovery was in progress, and remains so today. Leftover food is wrapped daily, and it is frozen if kept over the weekend. Contact is made with the recipient agencies, and deliveries are made two or three times a week. If appropriate, the food is served at the next meal. If not, the recipient sites have dry, refrigerated, and freezer storage to keep it, or the central kitchen holds it for them.
The Wichita schools are like most others in that, even though they prepare one meal per student per day, many things can happen - from snowstorms to the fickle eating habits of students - which result in leftover food. The Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas is one of the groups that benefits from the program. They feed about 150-200 kids during the school year and many more during the summer. They are very happy to receive the donated school food, according to Melvin Carter III, Executive Director. "These kids need to eat," he said. "I would rather see someone be fed than to see it wasted. Were very blessed."
USDA funds were used in Wichita to purchase counter pans and two carts (one hot and one cold); to pay the truck driver, to reimburse for mileage, and to set up a recordkeeping system for deliveries. Sharon Carlson, Food Service Director for the Wichita Public Schools, is enthusiastic about this project. "Its been extremely positive, both for the recipients of the food and for the employees who work in the food service," she said. "They dont like to waste things."
As the program progressed, trained staff developed forms for the recordkeeping system and began to document donated food supplies, mileage, costs incurred, and delivery dates. Participating staff members were quite pleased to share the food and the recipients were delighted. The new program received many thank you notes; truck drivers heard nice comments; and a newspaper article ran in December about food recovery efforts in the city and, in particular, the Wichita Public Schools project.
Additional recipient sites were identified and food was shared with them as the program continued through January and February 1999. Through the spring the team worked with local agencies to assist with volunteer community service activities. The Campaign to End Childhood Hunger is one local agency that supported the food recovery program, and the school district works with several other anti-hunger advocates. The local food bank is certified by Second Harvest as a perishable food rescue program and has also safely recovered excess food from the school district. One of Wichitas greatest successes is the development of these community partnerships.
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Last Updated: 04/01/08