AVON, Ind. – An estimated 22 million untouched food items are thrown away in Indiana school cafeterias every year. It's a lot of waste, and it's a reason an increasing amount of schools are jumping onto a program designed to reduce that waste.
Under USDA regulations, any food a student doesn’t eat in a cafeteria cannot be given back to be used again the next day. So the initiative, over the past couple years, has been tried out in over 200 Indiana schools.
In those schools, like Avon High School, beside each garbage can in the cafeteria you can now find a bin to rescue food headed for the trash.
What goes in the bin – items like unopened milk, fruit and chips – ends up in coolers that head off to charity, dished out to groups that help people in need in local communities.
The effort is organized by Noblesville nonprofit Food Rescue, a group that’s approached dozens of schools in central Indiana encouraging them to jump on board.
And many have. From Carmel-Clay Schools to Franklin Township, 10 percent of Indiana schools now work to keep food out of the landfill and in our community. That’s a higher percentage than any other state in the country.
Since October, in Avon alone, more than 4,000 pounds of food was rescued from the 12 schools.