On Long Island, it is hard to imagine any student going home on Friday after school and not having anything to eat until returning to school the following Monday. But unfortunately, that is the case for many here on Long Island as well as around the Nation. An elementary school in Elkhart, Indiana, implemented a pilot program whereby 20 students were sent home with an insulated backpack stuffed with 8 frozen meals to provide food during the weekend. The goal is to expand it all 21 schools in the district as the district has about 64% of their 12,000 students who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
The district partnered with a local nonprofit, Cultivate, which is a local “food rescue” group near the school in South Bend. We often see massive quantities of food prepared at events and know that the leftovers will go in the trash. This nonprofit saw a way to help others with the leftover food. The meals contain a vegetable, a protein, and a starch. The group goes to the kitchens in the district’s school 3 times a week to collect food that was prepared but not served, preventing the food from ending up in the trash. Cultivate also gets food from local caterers, hospitals, casinos, and other businesses as well as the well-known college, The University of Notre Dame. The organization uses the food collected from the schools combined with the food from others to create meals for those in need. One of the catering companies they partner with saved 50,000 pounds of food (that’s 25 tons!) from going to waste in seven months.
The district started small as they wanted to make sure they had enough food. Cultivate has only been operating as a not-for-profit for a short period of time (this July will mark their second year), but has already had a tremendous impact. Cultivate’s partnership with so many companies is enabling them to run a pilot in 2 other neighboring schools, and the news is spreading fast. Across the nation, others are looking to see how they can start their own program. Instead of food going into the landfill, hungry students are getting food to help them through the weekend and come back to school ready to learn.
Where can your students get meals over the summer on Long Island?
- Hempstead UFSD
- Academy Charter School
- SUNY College of Tech Farmingdale EOP
- Brentwood UFSD
- North Shore Holiday House Inc.
- Long Island Cares, Inc.
Schools work best when they work with their community.
Shari Diamond, CIA
Shari has been with Cerini & Associates, LLP since 2008 where she works primarily with the firm’s school district clients providing internal audit and claims audit services. She has over twenty years’ experience performing internal audits, risk assessments, and compliance reviews, as well as recommending processes to strengthen the internal controls environment while increasing efficiencies. Her prior experience at PWC and Northrop Grumman included performing Information Technology audits.