Hear the inspiring story of how three high school students at Solon High School founded Project Leftovers, an organization committed to preserving unopened and unpeeled food from the trays of students that was previously unnecessarily being thrown away.
Hello! My name is Lea Kim and I am a senior from Solon High School in Ohio. Day by day, the cycle was the same: the bell rang and with it, mountains of food were thrown into the piling pits of garbage. Growing up conditioned with the mindsets of conservation and gratitude towards my meals, the thirty minutes of lunch always remained a daily horror story. However, the true horror lay in the discovery that my school was not at all special; rather, it was only a single puzzle piece that factored in the big picture of food waste in America.
Nevertheless, small changes should never be doubted. Thus began the story of my fight against
food waste. In June of 2017, I took the exciting first step, leading a group of my friends who all
shared the same yearning for a solution. Under the name of “Project Leftovers,” we armed
ourselves with a summer break’s work of research and ran to the battlefield.
The 2017-18 school year was a busy one for Project Leftovers. With approval, we conducted
monthly waste audits in the cafeteria. We contacted local food businesses, the school nutrition
department, and cafeteria staff to suggest prevention methods. In order to pique student interest
in the issue, we held a food-waste-themed art contest to promote student involvement.
Now starts chapter two of our journey: food recovery. Thanks to a kickstart provided by the K12
Food Rescue program and its Executive Director John Williamson, Project Leftovers was able to
obtain the crucial resources in planning a recovery program. After thorough research through the
website’s documents, litigation, and procedures, we were able to hold a meeting with our
school’s principal and nutritionist to suggest the idea.
The takeaway from that meeting? Small, but strong steps will be taken towards that direction.
Currently, we plan to pilot an internal food recycling program for this school year. Pre-packaged
items and whole fruits will be collected and will be available for students in our school who
cannot afford a lunch. School hasn’t even started yet but the future for Project Leftovers seems bright already.
To all of the future food waste fighters out there, feel free to contact Project Leftovers for more information about our journey as well as how to start yours!
2016/2017 School Year
We at Saint Ignatius were very concerned about the waste we saw going on in our school cafeteria. The surplus in children's lunches, bought or packed, was ending up in the trash and eventually the land fill. I was given Food Rescue's contact information and decided to look into it. Within a few minutes of talking with you we were on our way. I called local food pantries to see who would be willing to partner with us. Corpus Christi Food Pantry was overjoyed to be offered these caring donations. Once that was settled, the rest truly took me about 1/2 hour to accomplish. We made a poster and set a table in the cafe. A blurb in our weekly newsletter alerted parents as to what we were trying to accomplish. The feedback has been very positive. I am blessed to be part of a school which is so willing to help others. The children jumped at the chance to give. Our principal has always encouraged the students to live with the "others first" mindset. The payoff has been huge and the setup was minimal.
Food rescue has an easy to navigate website. Putting in our data only takes a minute or two every week. Students and parents alike are happy to see our progress, which I pull directly from the Food Rescue website. Being able to make such an impact with such little effort is something that you don't find very often. I have contacted neighboring schools to see if they would like to join in for next school year. We hope to see a growth and willingness from others to give.
Food Service Manager
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Cincinnati, OH
2017/2018 School Year
5 students led K-12 Food Rescue at Saint Ignatius Loyola in the 2017/2018 school year
2018/2019 School Year
TOTAL FOOD ITEMS DONATED FROM 2016/217 school year to 2018/2019 school year
Jenna Barrett and Dana Kapcio are Seniors at Kenston HS in Ohio, and after coming across Food Rescue resources online, Jenna contacted Food Rescue, and they received free mentoring on how to develop a K-12 Food Rescue program in their school. Check out the article below. Congrats Jenna and Dana on a tremendous accomplishment!
Jenna has graduated, and Food Rescue is currently looking for a student in Ohio to carry on the work she has started. Email Food Rescue today at firstname.lastname@example.org