Food Rescue is teaming with The Kroger Foundation and The World Wildlife Fund as a consultant with an 8 city food waste audit cohort group that will promote food waste prevention and keeping nutritious food inside our food supply chain in our U.S. schools through conducting and studying the results of food waste audits in those 8 cities. Indiana's own Earth Charter Indiana and Jim Poyser will be conducting food waste audits in at least 5 local schools. Last week we were invited to speak in Washington D.C., and in a subsequent chance meeting we were able to speak to Senator Todd Young in the capital about Indiana's leadership on the subject of feeding families and not landfills in our nation's schools with nutritious unopened food that the USDA allows to be rescued from landfills.
Senator Todd Young, FR Executive Director John Williamson, and John's wife Carol Williamson
Food Rescue's presentation to the World Wildlife Fund and Kroger Foundation Grant Recipients
Vermont Becomes Second State in US To Draft School Food Recovery Guidelines for Student Tray to Trash Donations
We are excited to announce Vermont has followed Indiana's lead and became the second state in the U.S to our knowledge to have state education and health departments approve guidelines for the safe donation of unopened, unpeeled, and unwanted food items from the trays of students. These guidelines will open the door for millions of unopened and unpeeled food items to be kept out of landfills in Vermont, and placed into the hands of children and families in need instead. It will also inspire other states like New York, who has a bill that has passed the senate to direct the NY commissioner of Education to construct similar guidelines, as well as many other interested states all over the U.S.
Rhonda Mace, with the Chittenden Solid Waste District contacted Food Rescue in late 2014 for the very first time, and then in 2015 and asked our assistance in collaborating with Vermont stakeholders and others in sharing the process of how Indiana came to adopt these policies, as well as points of emphasis from Indiana's Department of Education and Department of Health. Rhonda gave us permission to post the email sent announcing the program, as well as the guidelines themselves. Notice the cooperation of all involved at the highest level of state government departments in Vermont, as well as others listed.
Here are Vermont's food rescue documents! They are final and being distributed as I type to all food service staff throughout our state. I want to thank you again for your advice and guidance through this process. It was a collaborative effort, approved and supported by Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont Department of Health, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Hopefully other states will be encouraged to get something similar started.
We are actually part of a panel discussion at the upcoming Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People conference in Boston at the end of June on getting a K-12 food rescue program up and running.
Keep up the awesome work!
Chittenden Solid Waste District
From: Oakleaf, Bryn
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 2:26 PM
To: food_service_managers 'FARMTOSCHOOL
Cc: Wirsing, Elisabeth Rhonda Mace ; Nicole Civita
Subject: Vermont State Agency developed - Share table & Donation Guidance
Attached are the final versions of the share table and food donation documents for distribution. These two documents have been developed in partnership with Vermont Department of Health (VDH), Agency of Education (AOE), Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), Chittenden Solid Waste District, Milton Farm to School, and the Vermont Foodbank. This team has drafted the contents of these two documents with assistance from the USDA-FNS, USEPA Region 1, and Food Rescue (Indiana based organization), among other partners.
Please reference these documents when initiating share tables in your K-12 schools or are looking to do so within the parameters set out by VDH, AOE, and ANR. For further information about donating surplus food from schools to local food shelves please reference the two page guidance document attached and consider reaching out to the Vermont Foodbank to assess logistics for capturing edible food for charitable distribution.
Note that donating food to charitable programs has federal liability protection under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. The federal law can be read here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title42/pdf/USCODE-2010-title42-chap13A-sec1791.pdf.
You may know of Vermont's Universal Recycling law (Act 148) and the phased-in landfill bans on food waste. (See the timeline of implementation dates here: http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wmp/SolidWaste/Documents/Universal-Recycling/timeline-factsheet-dec2014.pdf.) Preventing wasted food and capturing edible food before it must be discarded is a way to reduce the amount of material that must be sent to be composted, or other downstream processing options that keep the material out of the landfill.
If you have questions about the Universal Recycling law please do not hesitate to contact me or my colleagues at ANR. If you have questions about food safety and handling for share tables or donation please refer to the contact information provided on the attached guidance documents.
Environmental Analyst V
Waste Management & Prevention Division
VT Department of Environmental Conservation
the In 2015, Food Rescue asked the Indiana Department of Health and State Department of Education to establish and publish guidelines for schools to donate unopened and unpeeled items from the trays of students that went uneaten. Together those two state departments cooperated to produce the only guidelines in America for the safe donation of an estimated 22 million food items in Indiana, which represent a "drop in the bucket" of the 1 billion food items wasted nationwide annually in our schools. Vermont will be publishing their own guidelines soon, after consulting with Food Rescue on a conference call in 2015 with 5 government officials regarding Indiana's guidelines.
Which brings us to New York. Senate Bill S854 was introduced and passed the New York State Senate to.direct the Commissioner of Education to write voluntary guidelines for school food recovery in coordination with the commissioner of Agriculture.
While it's groundbreaking that the state Senate of New York recognizes the importance and impact of enacting school food recovery guidelines like the ones in Indiana, it's also a tragic symbol of how numb we are toward food waste, even while 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure. There is still much work to be done.
But for now it is worth celebrating that the movement has in fact captured the attention of an entire legislative body of an influential state such as New York.
I've had the pleasure of working with leaders all over the nation on the subject of school food waste. One of them is Nancy Deming, Sustainability Manager in the OUSD in CA. She recently wrote an article for the United States Building Council and Center for Green Schools, featuring a first hand story of what she sees in Oakland CA school cafeterias each day, and pointing people toward our historic guidelines in Indiana from our State Department of Health, and Our State Department of Education
The complex world of school cafeteria food donation By Nancy Deming Oakland Unified School District Sustainability Manager
Posted in Center for Green Schools
In my position at Oakland Unified School District, I sit between the Custodial and Nutrition Services Departments. One of my main areas of focus is in developing a district-wide food donation program, and I’ve met with a variety of successes and challenges along the way. It is taking shape, and once it is fully developed, it can be used as a model for other schools and school districts.
Cafeteria food going unused. Anyone who spends time in K–12 school cafeterias with high participation in the federal meal program witnesses the volume of edible food that goes to waste. It goes well beyond the fruit peelings, the pizza or sandwich crust, or even the half-drunk milk that students toss. Food waste in cafeterias includes whole untouched fruit, bags of baby carrots, unopened packaged entrees, and cartons and cartons of unopened milk. For schools that are able to do scratch cooking, there are inevitably fruits and milk that go to waste. But the waste is greatest in cafeterias that are dependent on providing packaged items.
Witnessing this tossing of good food on a daily basis is overwhelming, pushing well-meaning people in schools to do something about it, such as a coach at one middle school in Los Angeles County. He collected the fruit that students did not want during lunch and gave it out to hungry students later in the day. News reports say he was fired for this and that it violated legal and public health rules. Yes, he was in the wrong for collecting and distributing food surplus in this manner. However, the piece that these initial news reports missed was how schools might legally be able to keep this surplus food from going to the landfill or compost.
What's involved in donation?The Good Samaritan Act and the USDA Lunch Act allow and encourage schools to donate surplus food. Great, so let's donate! Sounds relatively easy, and how difficult can it be, especially since we have complained about it for so long? Unfortunately, since the regulations are new, uncharted territory, the details are not fully formulated yet. There are different perspectives on the what and how of implementation, not to mention many different entities lending their opinions. The USDA provides the general framework for food donation. Then, the state education departments and counties’ public health departments make their final statements about what they determine to be legal. And, finally, school districts must then compile and understand all the details for themselves.
Luckily, we have some passionate and driven folks that are working to make it easier to donate school food on local and national levels. Our model state right now is Indiana, thanks to the tireless work of Food Rescue, where they have passed state legislation detailing how to donate and what is allowed to be donated. We have a national school food donation assistance organization, Food Bus, which assists schools and school districts in setting up a school food donation program. And several school districts are taking the lead on developing internal district-wide food donation programs, such as California districts Oakland Unified, Los Angeles Unified and Anaheim Unified.
Next stepsIn the case of the coach from Los Angeles County who was trying to donate food to students, the details are not public. But his experience in his school’s cafeteria, witnessing with frustration good food was being wasted, is common and relatable. All of us—and our schools, school districts, counties, states and federal governments—have the responsibility to develop solutions so that good, edible food fills bellies and not the landfill. The effort is worth the end results, so take the time to