School lunches have become a lot more nutritious with healthy food, but it’s food some picky eaters may not want.
“We had a lot of food wasted,” says Maria Cuenca, kitchen manager. Throwing away good food was not something anybody wanted to do.
“The kids were wondering what they could do,” she says. But now, the picky eaters are playing a major role in feeding Fresno’s hungry population.
“We found that there was also a lot of waste within the schools and that’s how we started the partnership with the Fresno Unified School District,” says Chanel Ruiz-Mendez with Metro Ministries.
Fresno Metro Ministries started the program food to share, aiming to recover food that would otherwise go to waste.
“Ninety-nine percent of our recovery distribution is done from our drivers picking up every single day from 25 Fresno Unified schools,” she explains.
Driver, Vue Vang goes from school to school picking up crates of food students leave behind. Items in school lunches are individually wrapped so it’s kept safe for others to eat.
This is a project students want to be involved in. “It makes me feel a lot better about what I do,” Vang says.
Amris Her belongs to a leadership group at Susan B. Anthony School called the “Aspire Girls” and recovering food kids leave behind in the cafeteria is what they do.
“After they start dismissing the students, we would grab crates and pick up the food students don’t want,” Her explains.
The goal is not to waste, there is too big a need.
“We feed the world. Ag is so important here but yet we are the third most food insecure city in the nation,” Her says.
Right now food to share is collecting about 50,000 pounds of food a month from 25 Fresno schools. That food goes to 45 different organizations in the city, like Feed My Sheep Ministries.
“They be here every Friday and I know them personally, the majority of them and they desperately need the food,” says Lawrence Hood with Feed My Sheep Ministries.
Sharing food is one way to make sure they get what they need.
Fresno Unified has given Food to Share the OK to collect food from its 94 schools, but the organization must raise funds to buy more trucks and hire more drivers to pick all of it up.