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This is the kind of brilliant idea that makes you wonder why nobody ever thought of it before.

Elkhart Community Schools in Indiana have teamed up with a non-profit company called Cultivate to curb their daily food waste while simultaneously providing more meals for hungry students!

Photo Credit: WSBT-TV

The laws surrounding school lunches in this country are pretty ridiculous. We’ve all heard horror stories of kids who are denied meals because of outstanding cafeteria balances, and a lot of schools are also not allowed to let kids take any food home due to liability issues.

It’s pretty easy to see how this can quickly become problematic. If kids can’t afford their school lunch (which is generally not that expensive), it’s also pretty unlikely that their family will be able to provide full, healthy, nutritious meals at home. Or any meals at all, for that matter.

That’s where Cultivate comes in. Their pilot program takes leftover cafeteria food – the extra stuff that was prepared but never actually served – and repackages it into individual frozen meals that are given to low-income students so they don’t go hungry over the weekend.

Photo Credit: WSBT-TV

Jim Conklin of Cultivate says:

Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system. You don’t always think of a school.

Large-scale catering operations like school cafeterias over-prepare meals pretty regularly, operating under the logic that it’s always preferable to have more than to run out.

Thanks to Cultivate, unused food items are repackaged to offer healthy, balanced meals for hungry kids. Every Friday for the duration of the school year, 20 kids from Elkhart Community Schools will receive backpacks filled with 8 individually packaged frozen meals.

Photo Credit: WSBT-TV

Programs like this are sorely needed across the country – there are far too many children in our nation who actually dread the weekend or a school holiday, because it means going to bed on an empty stomach. Here’s hoping Cultivate can spread their program to more schools.