Share carts are popping up in school cafeterias across the country! The impact is immediate and twofold: helping feed hungry students, while keeping perfectly edible food out of the landfill.
Students are Going Hungry to Avoid the Stigma of Free Meals
Kids love taking a break from learning to eat and hang out with friends. That’s why it’s no surprise that when you ask students what their favorite subject at school is, many of them will answer “Lunch!” But, for some kids, lunch can be anxiety-inducing.
The stigma attached to receiving free and reduced lunch makes kids reluctant to participate in meal programs, feeling embarrassed that they are different from their peers. Make no mistake – the stigma is real and can be very traumatic. It creates a false sense of inferiority, which is especially hard to shake when it’s established at a young age.
Stop the Stigma
To help alleviate the problem, a growing number of schools around the country are rolling out Share Carts. The concept is pretty simple. All students need to do is leave unwanted food or drinks on the cart where other kids can help themselves – at no additional cost. Hungry kids appreciate the easy access to extra food. And, since the share cart is open to all students, there isn’t a social stigma attached to it – giving them the food they need without the added pressure of worrying if their classmates noticed.
Why Share Carts are a Smart Cafeteria Strategy
The idea of a share cart makes even more sense when you consider the restrictions of the federal lunch program, which requires students to take a minimum number of items to create a student meal. In order to meet those requirements, students are selecting foods they don’t necessarily want to eat – which means a lot of food ends up in the trash. On the flip side, growing kids are often still hungry after finishing their school-provided lunch. The bottom line – no kid should go hungry while perfectly good food is going in the trash.
The Many Benefits of a Share Cart Program
Being able to grab food without shame is a huge benefit to students struggling with stigma concerns. But, there are a number other reasons for embracing the share cart concept:
- Educating our youth that food is a valuable resource
- Food donation teaches students socially responsible citizenship – building a strong, connected school community among the student body
- Reducing food waste otherwise relegated to the landfill – it’s a great addition (or start) to your school’s sustainability efforts
- Reducing the amount of stress associated with waste management (maintaining trash receptacles or managing transportation and disposal)
Can you imagine not jumping at the chance to meet those goals?
‘Share’ Like a Pro
Fortunately, the work involved in setting up and maintaining a share program in your school’s cafeteria is minimal. Contact us today to get the lowdown on how you can ‘share’ like a pro and encourage every student to eat – without stigma.