Cafeterias all over the world daily dispose of uneaten food as a matter of course. At Abraham Baldwin Middle School, three parents noticed this was happening and got together to make a difference.
School nurse Pam Neleber, Linda Knudsen Westgard, and Susan Ireland sat down together to launch a pilot food donation program to benefit the Guilford Food Bank. Students at Baldwin now have the option at the end of their lunch wave to donate unused fresh fruit and unopened food and beverage containers to the Guilford Food Bank.
Along with assistance from Guilford Food Service Director Timothy Cipriano and support from Principal Anne Snurkowski, this program kicked off recently without a hitch.
"We sat down and were trying to brainstorm what we can do. It's something that happens in some of the schools in New Haven, where Tim Cipriano is from, and we took his idea and he helped us implement it to store some food within the Guilford school cafeterias," Neleber said. "He told us the limitations that the school has...and it was up to us volunteers to get it implemented.
"We have volunteers every week running the food that's donated back to the Food Bank and coming in and educating the kids in the cafeteria," Neleber continued. "We want to make sure they're eating their food, but what they don't eat, donate it to a good cause. It's a win-win."
Designated students bring the donated food items to the school nurse's office, which is then stored in that refrigerator. Volunteers sift through the food to make sure the food will be acceptable and is not expired.
Volunteers are hoping that the success at Baldwin will lead to other Guilford schools jumping on board. Neleber also said that working alongside Director of Guilford Social Services Tammy DeFrancesco, the town is seeking a grant to aid the cause.
"She is going to be collecting funds and writing a grant to get money to buy refrigerators in each of the schools to hold the food so we don't have to use space in the nurse's office or cafeteria," said Neleber.
Guilford Social Services is currently accepting monetary donations toward the refrigerators. To contribute, contact Guilford Social Services at 203-453-8009.