The mission of Food Bus is to promote food recovery for the sake of alleviating hunger by collecting unused and unopened food leftover from elementary school lunches and distributing it to food pantries.
After watching an enormous amount of food being thrown out at a local elementary school, we founded a non-profit to connect schools with pantries. Food Bus is a public charity that designs, implements and maintains systems by which unused/unopened food leftover from elementary school lunches is saved from being thrown out as waste and then is distributed to local food pantries.
About Food Waste in Schools
Wasted food from elementary school lunches costs the economy over 2 billion dollars a year. Nearly a quarter of all elementary school lunches across the United States are thrown in the trash; Food Bus was created in order to address this tragic loss of nutrition for the hungry.
In the late 1990s federal grants were distributed to 12 school districts in order to figure out a system to connect schools and pantries so unused food could be recovered and shared. These programs were successful for the short term, but all districts reported that the major problem of figuring out how to distribute the food was not addressed. None of the programs were renewed. Food Bus is working to bridge this distribution gap between elementary schools and food pantries.
With the USDA’s release of data regarding the hungry in our country, including the fact that 1 out of 6 Americans live in a food insecure household, we feel our mission to be more crucial than ever. There are very strong federal and state laws that protect food donors against liability. In fact, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act was signed in to law in 1996 in order to encourage U.S. citizens to recover and glean food (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1791). In addition, since Food Bus is incorporated, any potential liability falls on the organization, not any individual or other organization.
What Food Bus Does
- Food Bus provides public education for schools and communities. We teach about the prevalence of hunger in local communities and the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects those who donate unused food to the hungry. We also teach about the environmental impact of food waste.
- We meet with public officials and county nutrition directors to partner with decision makers who can effect change and reduce food waste across the country. Within each school system we train volunteers about food waste and donation, as well as fund any supplies, including refrigerators, that a school needs to implement our program.
- Food Bus offers consultation services to individuals, schools, counties and a variety of systems across the country. We review potential difficulties in starting food recovery programs and offer creative solutions tailored to county policies. We provide answers regarding liability, logistics of implementing food recovery programs, types of pantries schools can donate to, and how to involve school children through Green Teams, Student Councils and Ecology Clubs.