Facilitate food sharing: Redistributing unopened food served through the school meals program to those in need can minimize food waste. While both the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and the National School Lunch Act allow and encourage schools to donate surplus food to local organizations or families, school faculty and staff must pay careful attention to local health code regulations. Contact local health officials to understand any existing regulations at the district, county or state levels.
- Make a strong plan. Food donation programs often rely on a strong community partner willing to collect and distribute unopened food. To ensure that trash does not contaminate donations and that food is held at the correct temperature for safety, school personnel should clearly instruct students on how to sort food waste and designate a monitor for food collection.
- Make it work for breakfast. Even for schools with successful food share tables or donation bins in the cafeteria, different strategies are helpful for breakfast after the bell programs with service in instructional spaces. Though cafeterias generally collect all donations in one place, classrooms typically benefit from several collection points. Furthermore, whereas sorting is a student responsibility in most cafeterias, teachers are often responsible for correctly sorting items in classroom-based service. Finally, to facilitate the quick transport of food from the classroom to refrigerators, schools should establish and communicate clear staff roles and procedures that take into account the building layout, kitchen equipment and custodial contracts.
Schools significantly impact resource use in their communities. A breakfast after the bell program is a great opportunity to show students that their future and the future of the environment matters.