My name is Mia Boohoff and I am currently a freshman at Sparta High School in Sparta, New Jersey. Although I am in 9th grade now, I was only a 3rd grader when I first thought of helping to prevent food waste. As a young kid, I was raised in a household where wasting food was not an option; we would save the extra food as leftovers or make meal plans. This means that I would apply these rules at school, but at a young age I observed many of the students in my school would waste food. Everyday I would look into the garbage cans in the cafeteria to see whole sandwiches, cheesesticks, bags of carrots, milk cartons, and many more untouched foods in there. I realized that this waste could have been other families’ meals, so 8-year-old me decided to try and do something about it.
I started Food Rescue in fourth and fifth grade with the assistance of one of my teachers, Mrs. Bleakley, and this program became of great success. This elementary school is continuing with Food Rescue under the supervision of Mrs. Bleakley, of course. Because of COVID, I wasn’t able to start Food Rescue for two years but when given the opportunity in 8th grade, I went straight to work. I didn’t work with Food Rescue in middle school, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t rescue food. Everyday I would ask my parents to take me to the local Sparta Food Pantry with big, heavy bags of food I collected from our school cafeteria. Coming to the food pantry and seeing the smile on the faces of people who needed that food urged me to keep going and to keep collecting food. Meanwhile, the elementary schools in the Sparta District collected over 21,000 food items in the past two years with Food Rescue which has been donated to local pantries. Seeing how my little idea became a legacy at the Sparta School Districts really boosted my confidence to continue Food Rescue at Sparta High School. I hope that my story inspires others to try to make a change in the world because this shows that you are never too young to start making the world a better place.