SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - On Monday, state lawmakers passed legislation that will allow public schools across California to donate all of their excess food from the cafeteria to local food banks and charities.
The San Luis Coastal Unified School District's refrigerators and freezers are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables daily, but when the students are out on breaks, this food can go to waste.
"So when we shut down for Winter Break or Thanksgiving Break and we're gone for a week or more, we often have perishable items like produce or milk that wouldn't otherwise be used. So to avoid sending them to the trash cans, we call up our community partners and ask them if they have a need and can take those on and they've been very responsive and grateful for getting those things so far," explains the district's Food Service Director, Erin Palmer.
Palmer says even during the school week, there can be times when too much food is made, telling us: "Usually it's maybe 50 meals or so that we can't use and we can't re-use; we can't use them again because of the limited time we have to use them for food safety. So they're able to take them to their shelters and their organizations are able to use them to serve their own populations."
A lot of the donations from the district come to the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter.
The shelter hosts 80-90 people a night but it doesn't have any sort of kitchen facility to cook for the people in need.
"Being able to know that we have some good food that we can pick up or they can bring, that will supplement what we're putting together for the evening has just been amazing.. It's been really needed," says CAPSLO's Deputy Director, Grace Mcintosh.
Primer says this partnership helps close the gap on not only hunger but also sustainability.
"We can continue to re-use and get food to people who are in need and who are hungry so it definitely makes us feel better that we are avoiding things going directly to the landfill," she explains.
We did reach out to other school districts in the area to see if they do anything like this as well.
So far only Lucia Mar has gotten back to us and that district says the extra food gets donated to its 'Bright Futures' families.