Schools Are Implementing ‘Share Tables’ To Cut Back On Food Waste

Schools across the country have found a way to cut back on food waste and feed hungry kids: They are implementing “share tables.” Students are encouraged to drop off any food or drink they don’t want at the table, which other kids are then free to take from throughout the day.

Whatever is left at the end of the day goes to a local food bank or charity. It sounds a bit like a little free library for food!

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The concept is a great way to reduce waste as well as feed people who are hungry.

cafeteria photo
Getty Images | Jana Birchum

In Orange County, Florida, about 20 public elementary schools have implemented the tables to great success, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

In addition to donating to charity, some schools choose to send the leftover food home with kids whose families are in need.

“Without this program, that would literally go in the dumpsters,” Pastor Stan Reinemund of Redeemer Lutheran Church, which receives food from Aloma Elementary School, told the Sentinel.

cafeteria photo
Getty Images | Jana Birchum

The church puts some of the items in its food pantry and uses the rest for a weekly breakfast served to about 100 homeless people each week.

Eighth-grader Nick Iannone started a share table at his school, James H. Moran Middle School in Wallingford, Conn., and takes pride in helping out his fellow classmates.

school photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

“Students that are maybe less fortunate than others, don’t have a lunch or a snack at school lunch, they can come up and take fruit or we’ve seen things like chips and yogurt come off the tables,” Iannone told WBUR.

school photo
Getty Images | Andreas Rentz

He says that since the table is open to all kids, there is no stigma in partaking in the free food offered.

In June 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed share tables as “an innovative strategy to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods and reduce food waste.”

cafeteria photo
Getty Images | Peter Macdiarmid

“Children may not always want to consume certain food or beverage items included in their meal,” the department wrote. “‘Share tables’ are tables or stations where children may return whole food or beverage items they choose not to eat, if it is in compliance with local and state health and food safety codes. These food and beverage items are then available to other children who may want additional servings.”

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Flickr |

What a great idea! Hopefully, more schools will catch on to this clever idea!

[H/t Scary Mommy]