CUDAHY, Calif. (AP) — A suburban Los Angeles County elementary school has a New Year's present for needy families: lunch leftovers.
The Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/sRApGl) Tuesday that starting Jan. 2, the Jaime Escalante Elementary School in Cudahy will donate unopened entrée items, fruits, vegetables and cartons of plain milk to the Southeast Churches Service Center, thanks to two fourth-graders who noticed a lot of food was going into the trash.
"We thought about all the kids who didn't have food," said Paulina Sanchez, 9. "They could get injured or sick. It makes me feel proud we came up with an idea."
The idea was launched this fall when Paulina and her classmate, Lesly Heredia, also 9, started counting the lunches that went into the trash and found that kids tossed more than 500 food items a week.
After making a graph of their findings, they sent a letter to Dennis Barrett, food services director of Los Angeles Unified School District, who suggested they could set up a "common table" where kids who didn't want items on their lunch trays could leave them for others.
He also advised them that the district allows schools to donate unwanted food to local charities. Currently, 71 schools give unopened food to 21 agencies.
The Cudahy school's effort comes as the school district introduced a new, more nutritional lunch menu this fall and also eliminated flavored milks. Many of the new dishes and the plain milk are being rejected by students.
For Southeast Churches Service Center, the donations, which will be items left on the common table, are especially welcome, said Andy Molina, executive director. The charity normally gives food to about 1,200 families, but during the holidays that number surges to 3,000.
Paulina and Lesly say sweet potatoes are the food kids most reject. Luckily, sweet potatoes happen to be one of the foods most requested by families, Molina said.
"People actually ask 'do you have any more sweet potatoes? When are you getting some?'" Molina said. "So when I heard that, to me, it was great."
Information from the Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
Date:12/27/2011 11:00 AM
Slug:BC-CA--School Leftovers,1st Ld-Writethru
Headline:Calif. 4th graders arrange food donations to needy
Source:Los Angeles Times
Editors' Note:Eds: Adds details, quotes.
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