Saving Food and Feeding Children
Did you know that 62.5 million tons of food is wasted each year, while
42.2 million people in the United States don’t have enough food to eat? Even right here in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most affluent places to live, there are parents struggling to put food on the table for their kids. In response, San Mateo County Environmental Health Services started the Food Share Table Program with a goal of no hungry kids at school and to divert food from ending up in landfills
emitting methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Sharing and caring is evident through a Program where students are taught to only take food they plan to eat and share any unwanted, uneaten food with others. This helps ensure everyone has access to enough food to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, and protect the environment by reducing food waste.
“Composting food should be Plan B. We need to start looking further upstream and divert edible food from even ending up in the trash, especially when we hear about how many families are struggling to put meals on the dinner table daily,” says Allison Milch, Pollution Prevention Specialist and coordinator of the Food Share Table Program in the
If you visit an elementary school in South San Francisco and Redwood City’s school district, you’ll see the success of the share tables with food continuously going in and out of color coded bins, and signage reminding everyone that the share table station is the first stop before heading to the trash bins when lunch is over.
To date, nine schools (about 4,500 students) have incorporated the Program into their mealtime, with an average of about 73 pieces of food prevented from being landfilled daily at each school.
“The share table has been a great success. Ms. Havr (the cafeteria manager) has done a great job setting up a protocol and the noon supervisors are following the plan well. Many students are being fed with nutritious food, quite a few augmenting what they may lack from home and much less food is wasted each day. Thank you all for your support in getting this going,” says Cregg Ramich, Buri Buri Elementary School’s Principal in South San Francisco.
While the launch of the Program is a huge milestone, there are still many more schools out there wasting edible and nutritious food. If you are a parent, teacher, or principal, and want to start a share table at your school, please reach out to San Mateo County Environmental Health Services at (650) 372-6252 or visit smchealth.org/sharetable for more information.