NYC schools can now donate cafeteria food to fight hunger and reduce waste. Here’s how.

NYC schools can now donate cafeteria food to fight hunger and reduce waste. Here’s how.

New York City’s Education Department recently launched a program allowing schools to donate unused packaged food to local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters — an effort nearly two years in the making.

After a small group of schools piloted a food donation program, officials trained roughly 400 school food managers, supervisors, and directors earlier this year on how to set up their own programs, Chalkbeat has learned.

Every school will have the opportunity to opt into the effort, officials said. The Office of Food and Nutrition Services will help schools set up the procedures and equipment for donating untouched food, while a school’s administration will facilitate the donation to school community members or local pantries.

The program is gearing up at a critical moment, as pandemic-era family benefits dry up and childhood hunger is a growing concern. New York City has seen a 100% increase in the number of visits to food pantries by children and their families from pre-pandemic levels and 1 in 5 children don’t always know where their next meal will come from, according to food rescue group City Harvest.
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