Saddle Brook, NJ, December 5, 2023 –If you have visited a school lunchroom lately, you know the amount of food wasted can be staggering.
Table to Table, New Jersey’s first food rescue organization, is on a mission to change this reality with its new initiative, I-Rescue Lunch, which encourages K-12 students to rescue, recycle and reduce food waste while feeding hungry neighbors. Through the use of the nonprofit’s app, Table to Table I-Rescue and key partnerships with school ambassadors, wholesome unopened food like applesauce, fruit, yogurt as well as prepared cafeteria entrees are placed in crates for pickup by Table to Table volunteers and delivered to partners such as shelters, group homes or soup kitchens. Learn more at www.tabletotable.org/foodrescue.
“We are always exploring innovative ways to provide our hungry New Jersey neighbors with nourishment, and school cafeterias—with their high levels of waste—seemed like a natural way to leverage our Table to Table I-Rescue app,” says Julie Kinner, Vice President of Operations, Table to Table. “Although this marks the official I-Rescue Lunch launch, Table to Table’s I-Rescue App launched in May 2021 and now serves as the backbone for this school cafeteria-focused program,” Kinner concluded.
As part of the soft launch of I-Rescue Lunch, Table to Table partnered with a team of middle schoolers at Newark Academy in Livingston six months ago. Overseen by their Science teacher, the students collect nutritious, prepared food from the school’s cafeteria, package it up and contact Table to Table to request a volunteer pick up. Schools can also choose to deliver the food themselves to one of Table to Table’s recipient partners.
“I am very proud of the Middle School Newark Academy Food Rescue Team! They saw a problem and took action,” says Debra Tavares, 6th Grade Team Leader & Advisor, Newark Academy Science Department. “Since the spring of 2023, every Friday, the students pack up dining hall food for Table to Table to deliver to their clients. The students are actively contributing to the school's sustainability focus and contributing to the community in a positive way,” concludes Tavares.
The amount of food waste is school cafeterias is prevalent across the United States. According to a study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kroger Company, an average of 39.2 pounds of food and approximately 28.7 cards of milk per student are wasted. And, at the same time, food insecurity continues to be something that plagues even wealthy states like New Jersey. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 NJ children do not know where their next meal is coming from.