To make sure no child goes hungry, the Elkhart school district in Indiana teamed up with a local nonprofit to turn leftover cafeteria food into take-home meals for students in need.

The neediest children at the northern Indiana’s Elkhart Country Community School usually get breakfast and lunch served to them—but at night and on the weekends, they could be without food.

So, the school joined forces with a local nonprofit called Cultivate for a pilot program at Woodland Elementary, to ensure children don’t go hungry, according to local news channel WSBT.

Cultivate has a clever way to feed students—repackage leftover food and give it to those in need.

“Mostly, we rescued 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 system,” said Cultivate spokesman Jim Coklin.

Many schools over-prepare food, and now it’s being rescued instead of thrown out. 

“We take that well-prepare food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out of it,” said,” Coklin, Cultivate’s president and co-founder.

At one elementary school, 20 students will receive a backpack filled with food every Friday. Eight frozen meals go into each backpack, to carry families in need through the weekend.

Natalie Bickel, the supervisor of student services in Elkhart said: “We were wasting a lot of food, there wasn’t anything to do with the food. And so they came to the schools three times a week and rescued our food. So, they’re going back to Cultivate, processing the food and it’s coming right back to our students.

The program is getting funding from the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy. Academy liaison Melissa Ramey said: “I am proud of that. It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and they don’t have anything to eat.”

Cultivate is also rescuing food leftovers from university events, such as football games.


Cultivate co-founder and General Manager Randy Z collects untouched, unserved leftovers from high-end events and reports that they’ve created 100,000 meals out of these so far.

Now, thanks to these backpacks filled with food by Cultivate, students don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from. 

It was made with love in their own school cafeteria, and rescued for them.

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