Release: New Law Allows Schools to Donate Food and Milk from Share Tables
SACRAMENTO – Schools across California can now donate their cafeteria leftovers to local foodbanks and charities. Today, Senate Bill 557, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina) and sponsored by the Los Angeles Unified School District, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
SB 557 allows public schools to donate certain food items to food banks, and will ensure that Californians across the state have access to the food that they deserve
“I am proud the Governor signed SB 557 into law, which gives schools the necessary tools to donate the food they do not use and help local communities suffering from food waste issues,” said Senator Hernandez. “We have millions of Californians who suffer from food insecurity. This is a positive step toward growing a fruitful relationship between schools and local charities in order to protect hungry Californians. Thank you to LAUSD for their continued collaboration to bring this idea into reality.”
Every school day, L.A. Unified serves nearly 650,000 meals to students. Since some children are picky eaters and many youngsters often take more than they can eat, they are allowed to put what they don’t want on share tables. Those items are available for children who want additional food, but the leftovers are thrown into the trash. Not anymore. Unopened prepackaged food, uncut produce like apples, and cartons of milk kept at the appropriate temperature can be given to food banks or other charities, to be distributed free of charge.
“Thank you to Governor Brown for signing SB 557 into law,” said L.A. Unified Superintendent Dr. Michelle King. “We would also like to extend a special thank you to Senator Hernandez for authoring this important legislation and for his unwavering support. Now, thanks to SB 557, even food and milk that has been served will be put to good use instead of thrown away and wasted. In a District as large as ours, these food donations will provide greater access to nutritious foods, while also helping to reduce child hunger.”
"I think this bill is fantastic,” said Food Service Director Joseph Vaughn. “It removes several barriers that have made it difficult to donate food.”
Donating excess food to charities is not new at L.A. Unified. In fact, the Board of Education passed a resolution, “Healthy Food, Healthy Students, Healthy Communities” in 2011 to allow contributions to charities that serve needy children and families. But, only food and milk that had not been served at our schools could be given away.
“SB 557 will further help the district reduce our organic waste by giving us the ability to donate perfectly good food, instead of introducing it to the waste stream,” said Director for Environmental Health and Safety Robert Laughton, LEED AP, FMP. “For every 20 percent reduction in organic waste, the District will save on average $45,000 per week in rubbish hauling expenses, and reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills or other recycling facilities.”