Indiana elementary school pilots program that packages unused food into take-home meals

An elementary school in Indiana has reportedly partnered with a local non-profit organization, Cultivate, to package left-over cafeteria food into take-home meals for underprivileged students.

Elkhart School System's Woodland Elementary students are reportedly offered breakfast and lunch at school, but some may go hungry on weekends when they can’t visit the cafeteria. Cultivate will provide 20 select students with a backpack carrying eight individual frozen meals every Friday until summer break.


Jim Conklin, the founder of Cultivate, explained how schools usually cook more food than is actually consumed each school day. Cultivate, therefore, repackages the left-over food to feed those who might otherwise miss a meal.

“Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system," Jim Conklin told WSBT. "We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it."

“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food," admitted Natalie Bickel, who works with student services. "There wasn't anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food."


The Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy Commerce also reportedly played a role in bringing Cultivate to Woodland Elementary.

“It’s making a big impact,” Melissa Ramey, a member of the Chamber Leadership Academy, told WSBT. “I am proud of that. It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don't have anything to eat.”

Elkhart School System is reportedly working to expand the repackaged food program to other schools to help children in need.