Sorting food waste so that it can be composted is part of daily life at Poly. But what about the surplus food from our cafeteria that is still edible? Instead of being composted, might there be a way to donate it to the food insecure?
These are questions the Middle School Sustainability Club decided to tackle. During September, they weighed the surplus food from the cafeteria and tracked how much was being thrown away in our composting bins. The club brainstormed about organizations they could contact to create a food donation program. Some club members suggested Mano a Mano, a non-profit that supports day laborers at the Pasadena Community Job Center. Poly’s Student Community Engagement program had an established relationship with Mano a Mano as part of a Middle School Block. In December, the “edible food recovery” pilot program got rolling, providing surplus food one day a week for Mano a Mano. The goal is to be able to expand to several days a week, supporting not only day laborers but also another organization that feeds the unhoused. Like many new projects, it took a village to bring this one to fruition. Thanks to Bevaris, Community Engagement Coordinator Renée Larios, Middle School teacher Edgar Arceo, Mano a Mano, Manager of Environmental Sustainability Laura Fleming, and most of all, to the Middle School Sustainability Club for taking on this challenge to help the food insecure.