Kannapolis City Schools cuts down food waste with new partnership

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 27, 2015

The Kannapolis City Schools Nutrition Program has partnered with Cooperative Christian Ministry to help community members in need and cut down on food waste.

Representatives from Cooperative Christian Ministry pick up leftover breakfast food from the cafeteria at Forest Park Elementary School in Kannapolis. The foods, including cereal, string cheese, graham crackers, fruit and juice, are picked up five days a week and taken to the organization’s food pantries.

Anne Treanor, director of the school nutrition program for Kannapolis City Schools, is tracking the amount of food donated with a log that documents every food item donated, which is also signed by a Cooperative Christian Ministry representative.

Treanor got the idea from a Cabarrus Wellness Coalition meeting. It was there she learned of Cooperative Christian Ministry’s partnership Royal Oaks Elementary School in the Cabarrus County School district.

“I thought, boy, what an opportunity for us as a school nutrition program for our leftover food, instead of it just going in the trash, to go right back into our communities to people who really need it,” she said.

As of Nov. 20, Cooperative Christian Ministry has collected more than 22,900 pounds of food since starting the food collection at Royal Oaks in January of this year.

Both Kannapolis City and Cabarrus County schools participate in the Community Eligibility Provision program, in which students are provided with free breakfast and lunch. The program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Treanor said 75 percent of students in the KCS district qualify for free and reduced lunch.

“With us doing that, we do have food that’s leftover. It just seems like a win-win to be able to provide the donated leftover food right back into our community,” Treanor said.

Joanie Reeder, development coordinator for Cooperative Christian Ministry, said the school donations are great because people usually only donate boxed and canned items.

“These are things that don’t get donated to food pantries normally, so it’s really good for these families because they’re getting milk and dairy products and fresh fruit and even in some instances fresh vegetables,” she said.

Since its start on Nov. 9, Reeder said the organization has collected 244 pounds of food from Forest Park Elementary as of Nov. 20.

Also according to Reeder, Cooperative Christian Ministry has served almost 15,000 households in Cabarrus and southern Rowan Counties last year with the Crisis Center Pantry and eight other satellite pantries.

Treanor said her goal is to have every school in the district participating in the program.

“I’d like by the first of the year to add another school on and then perhaps by the end of the school year having all of our schools on the program,” she said.

The amount of schools participating in the program would depend on things like how much Christian Cooperative Ministry can handle in terms of food pick-ups and how much leftover food each school has to give.

Treanor said when the holidays and cold weather roll around, it is important for community members to get good nutrition.

“If we can salvage any kind of food and put that back into the community, that’s great,” she said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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