EPA 910-R-17-003
March 2017
School Food

This work would not have been possible without support from the following organizations and individuals:
Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools
Matthew Campbell, Hopelink
Kathy Dumas, Bellevue School District
Rina Fa'amoe-Cross, Seattle Public Schools
Liz Fikejs, Seattle Public Utilities
Food Bus
Joe Graham, Washington State Department of Health
Nayiri Haroutunian, Washington Green Schools
Lynn Johnson, Bremerton School District
Sabrina Jones, Solid Ground
K-12 Food Rescue
Nancy Larson, Bellevue School District
Aaron Leavell, Bremerton School District
Zelda Menard, Bellevue School District
Puesta Del Sol Elementary School Green Team 2014/2015
Lindsey Robinson, Hopelink
Amythst Shipman, Food Lifeline
EPA Region 10 Staff Theresa Blaine, Susan Conbere, Kristy Fry and Viccy Salazar
EPA Region 10 Contract support Kathryn Pizzo, David Stitzhal and Tommy Jean Valmassy
EPA Region 10 Interns Yvonne Chang, Alan Garvey, Paige Morris and Johanna Ventre
Plus many others who provided input as part of the WA School Food Share Network

The information contained in this Washington School Food Share Toolkit is intended to
inform the public and does not establish or impact legal rights or obligations. Links to non-EPA
sites do not imply any official EPA endorsement of, or responsibility for, the opinions, ideas,
data or products presented at those sites, or guarantee the validity of the information

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements	1
School Food Share -Overview	5
What is School Food Share?	5
Overview Diagram	5
Wasted Food	6
Program Vision	7
Guiding Principles	7
Information for Schools	7
Prevention First	7
Getting Started with School Food Share	9
Selecting Schools to Participate	9
School Food Collection Logistics	11
What can be donated	11
What cannot be donated	11
Supplies	12
Information for Food banks	13
Criteria Checklist for Food banks	13
Health Department-Legalities, Rules, & Regulations	14
Draft State Health Department Guidance for School Food Share Programs	14
Share Tables	17
Federal Laws and Guidance	18
Farm to School - Federal and WA State guidance	18
Data and Metrics Collection	18
Conduct a School Food Waste Audit: A One-Day Food Collection	19
School Food Share in Action	20
Communications	21
Examples	21
Related Programs and Initiatives	22
U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge	22
USDA- Department of Agriculture	23
Washington Green Schools	23
King County Green Schools Program	23
Oakland, California Unified School District Green Gloves Program	23
Seattle Public Utilities	23
USDA, WSDA, WSU - Feeding Food Scraps to Animals	24
Appendix	25
Templates & Examples	25
Program At-A-Glance Overview	26
Preliminary Email to School Employee Community	27
Email or newsletter to Parents	27
Lunchroom Staff and Student Instructions	28
Kitchen Manager Checklist - Items needed to start	28
Example Memorandum of Understanding between School District and Food Bank	29
School Site Visit - Evaluation Form	31
Signs and Posters	35

School Food Share -Overview
What is School Food Share?
School Food Share is a simple program that allows schools and food banks to work together to collect whole
and packaged cafeteria leftovers and share them within their community. An average school throws away
over 100 lbs. of recoverable food per week. This program helps schools use the food to 1) feed their own
students and/or 2) donate the food to their local food bank to fight hunger in the community.
EPA's Region 10 office in Seattle, Washington has taken on the effort of creating a repiicable model for school
food recovery, called School Food Share.
Overview Diagram
Waste Audit
Train pickup
store m
& school
A critical question-
In school year 2014-2015, the Green Team teacher at Puesta del So! Elementary School in Bellevue,
Washington asked a 'spark' question: "What are we going to do with all this wasted food in our lunchroom?"
Shortly thereafter, Bellevue School District, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, piloted
a program to donate whole, uneaten, leftover food from the lunchroom to Hopelink Food bank through the
nonprofit FoodBus.
The pilot at Puesta del Sol Elementary School (student body of 575 children) was successful. Since 2015,
approximately 100 pounds per week of fresh, consumable food (primarily miik, yogurt, string cheese,
muffins, bananas and other fruit) has been donated to the local food bank. This means over 3,500 lbs. of
food per year from one school can be shared with the community to help food insecure individuals and
From school
to foodbank

Wasted Food
•	Wasted food: food that could be recovered for consumption
•	Food waste: food scraps that are not fit for human consumption
•	Food Insecurity: lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food
Wasted food in the United States, and globally, is a significant problem, rapidly gaining attention and action
from governmental, nonprofit, and private interest organizations. For the purposes of this toolkit, we will
focus on the local (Washington State) and national situation.
In the U.S.:
•	An estimated 40% of food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. will never be consumed.
•	When food is disposed in a landfill, it rots and becomes a significant source of methane - a potent
greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
•	Food reaches landfills and incinerators more than any other material in municipal solid waste (MSW).
In schools, specifically:
•	40% of school cafeteria food is thrown out (landfill or compost).
•	76% of wasted food is fresh milk, fruits, and vegetables - highly valued food items in food banks.1
•	Meanwhile, 1 in 5 children in the state of Washington live in a household that struggles to put food
on the table.2
For food waste in the U.S., EPA's Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures provides
an estimate of the amount of food going to landfills from residences, commercial establishments like grocery
stores and restaurants, institutional sources like school cafeterias, and industrial sources like factory
lunchrooms. USDA's Economic Research Service estimates that food waste at the retail and consumer levels
in 2010 represented 31 percent of the available food supply, totaling about 133 billion pounds of food worth
an estimated $161.6 billion.3
rely on programs like
SNAP, school meals, and
WIC, along with food
banks to fill their plates
don't qualify for traditional
food assistance programs
and must rely on food
banks for help
THESE 689.000
45% adults
33% children
Food Lifeline Infographic Food Safety Net from Missing Meals Report 20134
1	Issue Paper August 21, 2012 Dana Gunders. (2016, December 15). Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to
2	Northwest Harvest. Northwest Harvest: WA Hunger Facts October 2015.
3	Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures Report. (2017, February 10). https://www.epa.gov/smm/advancing-sustainable-
4	Food Lifeline. Food Lifeline: Missing Meals Report 2013.

Program Vision
School Food Share seeks to prevent and minimize wasted food in schools, and redirect
consumable food to those who need it.
Guiding Principles
•	Educate students on the problem of wasted food
•	Encourage activities that prevent wasted food
•	Educate children about food insecurity in their
•	Redirect consumable food within the school or to
hunger relief organizations
•	Minimize the cost to schools of wasted food and the
associated environmental impacts
Information for Schools
Prevention First
The best way to minimize food waste is to prevent it. On the next page, an USDA infographic summarizes
several actions schools can take today:
Westwood Elementary
Food Waste Reduction
This elementary school in Washington's
Enumclaw School District utilized a student
pledge and school survey to identify a high
uneaten rate for bagged carrots, resulting in
a substitution, and avoided wasted food.

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Getting Started with School Food Share
A coalition of partner organizations in Washington State has developed the School Food Share Program to
recover and redirect usable food from schools to local food banks. This program outlines the steps and
guidelines by which schools can - legally and with federal program support - collect the leftover, edible food
in the cafeteria, set it aside in bins for donation in available cooler space, and have it delivered to the local
food bank for distribution to its customers.
School Food Share priorities, in order of
1.	Students eat the food they are served at
school breakfast, snacks or lunch.
2.	Whole, unopened leftovers are used to
feed those who need it within the school
3.	The remainder of edible food is redirected
quickly to the local food banks for
4.	Finally, anything left that cannot be
consumed in another way is composted.
Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Meal Programs
The term "food bank" often refers to facilities that
collect and store food before distributing it to local food
pantries, charities, and meal programs. "Food pantries,"
unlike the banks, serve directly to hungry people (who
may or may not have homes in which to prepare food).
And "meal programs," sometimes referred to as soup
kitchens, offer prepared food and hot meals to hungry
people. This document uses the term "food bank" to
refer both to the warehouse/distribution facilities and
the direct service organizations described above.
Even after those within the school community have eaten their fill, schools can donate thousands of pounds
of food per year to help others in their community. It is a win-win-win proposition: avoid wasted food,
wasted resources and associated environmental impacts, help to feed hungry people in the community, and
save the school district waste removal expenses. In addition, students learn they can make a positive impact
on the environment and their local community.
A few steps to get started:
1.	Reach out to key organizations. You will need their permission to implement a program.
a.	Your school, district and/or nutrition services.
b.	Your local health department. Washington State Department of Health has released Euidelines on
conducting program participation safely and with regulatory approval. USDA has already provided
approval through its guidance on Food Donation Programs in Child Nutrition Programs, available at:
2.	Reach out to other partners including school district nutrition and janitorial services, food banks, local
government, and the Office of State Public Instruction (0SPI). It is easier when everyone does their part,
and often there are some existing programs to leverage.
Selecting Schools to Participate
While the goal is for every school to have a School Food Share program in place, some schools are better
suited to become pilot programs in each district. Develop a list of criteria that will help you do the following:
1.	Collect baseline data about existing wasted food and food waste prevention and recovery practices
in your school. Conduct a sample collection of food leftovers after lunch. Weigh the food and take
pictures to document the amount of wasted food. Multiply the weight of leftover consumable food
by the number of school days to get an annual estimate.
2.	Gather information about the school: location, student body, support and food champions in a
green team, student council, kitchen or janitorial staff or teacher, etc. In many districts, elementary
and middle schools have better food collection results.

3. Document physical needs of each school: refrigerator/cooler space, power, accessibility, kitchen
hours, container availability, etc.
The School Food Share team utilized the following attributes in developing pilots around the Seattle area. You
may use these parameters as a baseline for your data collection (full table available in the appendix).
1.	School name and contact information
2.	Geographic location (City and County)
3.	Size of student body and breakdown of those who buy lunch versus bring lunch from home.
4.	Percentage of free/reduced iunch (FRL) - data available through OSPI; schools with higher FRL tend to
have more students buying lunch than bringing it from home.
5.	Is breakfast or dinner served? Schools that serve breakfast or dinner have additional opportunities for
food collection.
6.	Lunch setup - "offer" vs "serve" or other models. 'Offer' means the child chooses, although they must
take several required items; 'serve' means the food is prepacked, similar to airline food. Amounts of
wasted food vary depending on models used.
7.	Lunch before recess or recess before lunch? Evidence shows that students eat more after recess than
before, leading to less food wasted.
8.	Does a school green team exist? The green team can help set up and run the School Food Share program
and may have existing operations in place.
9.	Existence of local organization relationships (e.g. Washington Green Schools or King County Green
Schools). Such groups have curriculum available to help schools with a variety of environmental
education programs and policies, as well as student learning and involvement.
10.	Refrigerator space available - does the school lunchroom have enough refrigerator space to hold leftover
food for donation until pickup for the food bank? Schools typically need enough space to store two milk
11.	Does the school offer existing supplemental food programs such as backpacks of food to go home at the
end of the day? Is there an existing after school program that could or does distribute the food?
12.	Is there a share table? Share tables are an effective way of
redistributing food in school cafeterias.
13.	Number of clean up stations - this assists in planning for the
number of bins and signs needed. A clean up line could look like
this: 1. School Food Share collection bin, 2. liquid dump, 3.
recycling, 4. landfill, compost, tray-stacking area.
14.	Is there a compost program in place? More and more schools
compost food waste, creating an opportunity to use food waste as
a soil amendment while keeping food waste out of landfills
15.	School garden - schools with an active school garden may have
existing programs to leverage, to serve the garden food in the
lunchroom, and/or to donate leftover produce with their food donations. An in-house system could also
provide an opportunity for students to learn about the composting process.
16.	Food bank or meal provider partner options - food banks with geographic proximity, capacity (both
physical space and personnel or volunteers), and desire to participate.
Image of waste collection bins in

School Food Collection Logistics
The priority of the School Food Share program is to feed the students at school then to recover what
students do not eat. When rolling out the School Food Share program, remind and encourage students that
their food is for them, to eat as much as they have an appetite for, and only donate what they cannot eat.
The goal is to feed people, not landfills or composting facilities.

Waste Audit
Train pickup
co ef-tion
store in
From school
to foodbank
distribution to
& school
Decide on storage for perishable foods, which must be stored safely.
Decide on the food recipient. Sometimes existing school programs or 'share tables' can use the food. Once
you've selected the recipient, develop a Memorandum of Understanding (template in appendix) between
organizations to set out roles, responsibilities and expectations.
Conduct a one-day pilot to test school collection logistics and food storage, and to assess the volume of food
What can be donated
For the most complete list of food that can be donated, refer to the current State Health Department
guidance document (on page 13 of the toolkit). School foods that typically can be donated include:
Cartons of milk kept at <41°F
Packaged cheese, yogurt cups and tubes kept at <41°F
Granola, muffins, meat jerky
Prepackaged sauces (e.g. applesauce, pasta sauce)
Prepackaged apple slices, nuts, dried fruits
Whole fruits and vegetables with an intact peel or outer skin (washed if skin is edible)
Sealed bottles of water, cartons of juice, or other beverages
Other non-perishable food items
Note that "back of the house" supplies in the kitchen, such as unopened cans and jars of food, can be
donated to food banks as well. Check with your food bank partner to see what items are useful to them.
What cannot be donated
•	Any opened/resealed containers
•	Hot food or previously heated food
•	Refrigerated items brought from home in student lunches
Any homemade items

There are many ways of collecting the food in the cafeteria. Cafeteria staff typically coordinate and students
do the physical collection of the food. Many schools use their student council or green team to lead the effort
and train students to help with collection as the program becomes routine.
Here are two examples from our pilots:
•	At the end of lunch, each student places their food and drinks eligible for donation in a School Food
Share bin near the garbage and recycling collection area. The School Food Share bin has an ice pack
at the bottom to keep items requiring refrigeration cold until they can be moved to the refrigerator.
•	During lunch, students place items for donation at the end of their table for pick up during lunch
Successful food collection methods can follow a variety of models, depending on individual school situations.
•	4-6 sturdy bins/baskets to collect the food - size and type
varies by school/food bank partnership and available
refrigerator space. You typically need 1-2 bins for each
clean up line and 2-4 bins to store the food in the
•	Ice packs to be placed in the bottom of the food collection
bins/baskets. The ice packs will keep donated food items
requiring refrigeration cold until they can be moved to the
•	Large, kid-friendly signs and posters to hang in and around
the cafeteria (sample signs available in appendix).
. Clearly marked labels attached to the bins, stating the |mage of food co|lection bins being weighed
contents are for donation (appendix).
•	Space in the refrigerator or cooler at school to hold perishable food until picked up for delivery to
food bank.
The best bins are small enough to be easily lifted when full, have handles, and fit in the refrigerator space of
both the school and food bank. Some food banks will provide their own bins to be used and swapped in and
out. Consider sturdy plastic storage bins with lids that stack or milk crates that your school may already have.
If these same bins are being used at a Share Table first, consider getting transparent bins shallow enough to
allow young children to easily see their contents.
All bins must be clearly labeled with the School Food Share or other food bank signs to ensure the separation
of donated food from food being served during regular mealtimes.
Start collecting food for use and donation. Students love helping in this program; green teams and student
councils have proven to be great partners. Have the food bank partner pick up the donated food at least once
per week. Identify pick-up days depending on your school schedule and the needs of the food bank.
Measure your results and congratulate all participants for making a collective difference in your community.
Share results with your school community!
Hopelink, a Bellevue, WA food bank, who has been a Food Share partner for over two years, recently told
EPA that on a particular day in May "the milk, yoghurt and cheese we were able to offer to our clients
was all provided by the School Food Share program. Without the consistent donations of fresh food from
the schools, we would not have been able to provide our clients with milk, yoghurt or cheese this week."

Information for Food banks
For a school to be able to donate their leftover food, the receiving food bank must first:
•	Have received a health department variance (described below) to distribute the donated food.
•	Have physical capacity in the building and coolers or refrigerators.
•	Have the physical staff and/or volunteers to collect and transport the food from the school to the
food bank. Students' parents can be a source of volunteers. Some school districts use more than one
food bank when donating their food. Food banks and schools work together based on their
schedules, proximity to each other, and staffing capacity to collect the food.
•	Have bins (purchased or donated) supplied by the school, the food bank, or any combination thereof
that works for the school/food bank partnership. Bins must be cleaned; confirm with this expectation
with the food bank.
The kinds of foods that schools donate are in high demand by food banks - milk, yogurt, cheese, and fresh
produce - and are provided to food bank customers nearly immediately after being recovered from schools.
These items are already packaged and easy to distribute to food bank clients. Note that to determine the
best food bank match for school donations, you will want to ensure that the school lunch components meet
the needs of the food bank or meal program provider, as well as their ability to store and redistribute the
food to clients. In some cases, food banks or pantries are not equipped to store and distribute perishable
items, whereas a meal program provider may use the items as ingredients or will repackage them for
Criteria Checklist for Food banks
Criteria	Description	Comments
Food bank Name
Food bank

Food bank Branch Location

Capacity available in
5 blue bins per week for school
How much capacity (using the
measurement used by the food
Expected capacity from school
Elementarv- 150 lbs. per
580-student elementary school
(see school profile checklist for
averages & details)
Labeling system
Laminated tags binder clipped to
Way to identify foods/drinks
stored in school refrigerator
intended for donation
Measurement and tracking system
Upon checking in at food bank;
donation is weighed and all
specifics noted.
Data collected should include type
of food, weight received, and
person who checked it in. Receipt
given to person delivering food.
Reports kept by food bank.
Bin sterilization process in place
Yes, standard for all deliveries

Bins and other supplies
Food bank to use own bins

Pick up from school
Existing (trained food handler)
volunteers will stop at school 2x
per week.
Food bank-trained volunteer
drivers to stop at designated
schools on their routes.

Health Department -Legalities, Rules, & Regulations
Local county and city health departments take direction from the state health department and may adopt
additional policies, rules, and regulations. Washington State has issued an official guidance document on the
donation of leftover consumable school food. The current guidance mandates that the receiving organization
(i.e. food bank) requires a variance to receive served food. Depending on the local health department
jurisdiction, one variance might cover one site or all food bank sites receiving food from a school. A small cost
may be involved in this variance (e.g. $250 per site) or the cost can be waived entirely. The food bank or
receiving food distributor is responsible for acquiring this variance; the variance request takes several weeks
to be processed and approved.
Below you will find the most recent guidance that the Washington State Department of Health Food Safety
Program provided to the Seattle area School Food Share pilot teams. Always check with your local
Draft State Health Department Guidance for School Food Share Programs
Link to WA guidance
Guidance for School Food Service Programs Interested in Food Recovery and
Donation Plans Must Be Reviewed by Local Health Jurisdiction September 2016
Donation of food helps reduce wasted food and food insecurity concerns in communities. This document
provides food safety guidance for school programs that want to recover and provide food to donated food
distributing organizations such as food banks, shelters, or soup kitchens. While helping to alleviate wasted
food and food insecurity concerns, donation of food has a potential risk of contamination and temperature
A list of Washington State Local Health Departments and Districts is available at
Provide food safety guidance to school food service programs considering donation of wholesome food to
needy students or donated food distribution organizations.
On November 18, 2011, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2012 amended the
Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act which provided statutory authority for schools and other USDA
nutrition programs to have food recovery and food donation policies. The statute clarifies that any
unconsumed food may be donated to eligible local food banks or charitable organizations. The amendment
defines eligible local food banks or charitable organizations to mean any food bank or charitable organization
that is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
School programs planning to salvage food for donation must consult with their local health department
before beginning a recovery program. The operating requirements and expectations will vary depending on
the foods donated and the facilities available. At a minimum, schools should consider and be prepared to
explain the following when pursuing food donation:
• Which donated food distributing organizations will receive the donations? Written agreements
outlining delivery days, transportation plans, temperature monitoring, source tracking, and other
logistics information help ensure wholesome food and traceable delivery.

•	Will potentially hazardous foods be donated? Commercially-packaged, shelf-stable snack foods do
not need special approval for donation; however, donation of potentially hazardous foods will
require restrictions or additional procedures such as temperature monitoring to ensure the
distributing organization may accept the food.
•	Will home-prepared food be donated? Only commercially-packaged, shelf-stable products should be
accepted from the public for donation.
•	Will previously-served foods be donated? Distributing organizations are not allowed to receive
previously served foods, even intact food items such as whole fruits or packaged dairy products,
without additional safety precautions and written approval from the health department.
•	How will food planned for donation be collected and identified? Food scheduled for donation may
not be reintroduced to the food supply for the school. Participants must have a plan for safe food
separation, identification, and storage.
•	Will the school participate in an internal, organized food sharing program for students such as
Backpack Brigade? Food safety standards such as temperature requirements and safety of sources
extend to meals that go home with the students.
•	Who will be responsible for coordinating the donation program? Safe donation will require a
coordinated, planned effort. Ensure representatives from the school and the distributing location
work together to provide safe recovery, transportation, and service of the food.
Previously served food includes all food that has been in the hands of a consumer such as food selected by
students from a salad bar or cafeteria line. Previously served food for recovery and donation should be
limited to the following, unless otherwise limited by the local health department:
•	Unopened, commercially pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous food such as granola bars, apple
slices, crackers, and raisins with no fire, water, or other signs of distress.
•	Whole produce with an intact, non-edible rind or peel such as oranges and bananas.
•	Whole produce with an edible peel such as apples, plums, nectarines, and pears with an intact,
undamaged skin that are properly rinsed by kitchen staff prior to donation.
•	Unopened, pre-packaged, dairy products such as string cheese, milk, and yogurt that will be
maintained refrigerated and delivered at 41°F or colder.
•	Backpack Brigades and other food donations for school children to take home should be limited to
school meal components or commercially-packaged snack foods (no home-prepared foods).
Backpack items with potentially hazardous food ingredients must be kept refrigerated.
•	School sharing tables should be limited to unopened/unpeeled school meal components (no home-
prepared foods); limited to service during the current meal period; and offered from a designated
collection area posted with safe operating reminders and restrictions for student sharing. All
commercially-packaged, potentially hazardous foods must be immediately stored on ice followed by
identification and refrigeration for recovery donation or discarded at the end of each meal service.
•	Food past the original manufacturer's "sell by" and "best if used by" date are suitable for donation,
but not foods past a "use by" date.
•	Dates on most foods, such as milk, yogurt, and packaged non-potentially hazardous foods, are not
"use by" dates and are suitable for donation past the marked date.

•	Food establishments wanting to donate food should ensure contamination-free procedures, strict
employee hygiene practices, and proper temperature maintenance procedures are written and
•	It is recommended that an agreement be developed between the participating organizations to
indicate selected foods for donation, contamination prevention measures, temperature control,
transport and delivery procedures, and source records.
Department of Health Charitable Food Guidelines
USDA Guidance on Food Donation in Child Nutrition Programs
Washington State Department of Health Food Safety Program
Questions regarding this information should be directed to your local health department or the Washington
State Department of Health Food Safety Program at 360-236-3330 or food.safety@doh.wa.gov.

Share Tables
Many schools use "share tables" on which unopened, packaged foods and whole fruits served by the school
lunch program can be shared among students within the school at lunch time. Some schools opt out of share
table programs due to specific allergy policies. USDA has issued guidance (see below) on the program. Please
check the OSPI website for any updates to this guidance after the publication of the School Food Share
Toolkit document.
Using "share tables" encourages the consumption of nutritious foods and reduces wasted food in Child
Nutrition Programs. The USDA has provided guidance on this and the USDA memo "The Use of Share Tables
in Nutrition Programs" can be viewed at: USDA Guidance on Share Tables
USDA Memo: The Use of Share Tables in Child Nutrition
Using "share tables" is a strategy to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods and reduce
wasted food in Child Nutrition Programs. Share tables are tables or stations where children may
return whole food or beverage items they choose not to eat, if it is in compliance with local and State
health and food safety codes. These food and beverage items are then available to other children
who may want additional servings. If a sponsor has leftover or unusable foods on a frequent basis,
menu planning and production practices should be adjusted to reduce leftovers or unusable foods.
Share tables allow food or beverage items to be reused in a number of ways:
•	Children may take an additional helping from the share table at no cost
•	Food or beverage items left on the share table may be served during another meal
•	Food or beverane items may be donated to a non-profit orEanization, such as a food
Sponsors must follow the food safety requirements outlined in the regulations as well as local
and State health and food safety codes. Sponsors should check with their local health
departments regarding local requirements. The USDA guidance outlines the following steps
when establishing share tables:
1.	Follow Federal, State, and local health and food safety requirements
2.	Establish clear guidelines for food components that may or may not be shared or reused as
part of a later reimbursable meal
3.	If sharing items that require cooling is permissible under local and State laws, establish strict
food safety guidelines to prevent the risk of foodborne illness
4.	Supervise the share table at all times to ensure compliance with food safety requirements
5.	Ensure children and families understand the purpose and food safety requirements of the
share table

Federal Laws and Guidance
Federal laws encourage food donation in the United States by providing liability protection to donors or
tax incentives. See the EPA's website for additional information and resources.
•	The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was created to encourage the donation of
food and grocery products to qualified nonprofit organizations and provides liability protection
to food donors. Under this act, as long as the donor has not acted with negligence or intentional
misconduct, the company or organization is not liable for damage incurred as the result of
•	Internal Revenue Code 170(e)(3) provides enhanced tax deductions to businesses to encourage
donations of fit and wholesome food to qualified nonprofit organizations serving the poor and
needy. Qualified business taxpayers can deduct the cost to produce the food and half the
difference between the cost and full fair market value of the donated food.
•	The U.S. Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 specifies procurement contract language
encouraging Federal agencies and contractors of Federal agencies to donate excess wholesome
food to eligible nonprofit organizations to feed food-insecure people in the United States.
•	The USDA memo http://www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp-05-2012-guidance-food-donation-program-
child-nutrition-programs Guidance on Food Donation in Child Nutrition Programs provides
information on current federal food recovery and donation policy. It also provides guidance on
re-serving food in a subsequent meal service. Confirm all options with your local health
Farm to School - Federal and WA State guidance
•	Federal: Information about school gardens, such as the approval to use the food grown in gardens in
the school cafeteria: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/farm-school
•	Link to the Washington State Department of Agriculture Farm to School program:
Data and Metrics Collection
To date, schools and public agencies have gathered metrics to show the pounds of food recovered from
schools and provided to food banks. Per the MOU, food bank partners should report to the school the
collected food amounts (in pounds) and meals served. Some examples of additional useful metrics schools
could collect are listed below.
•	Changes in the school or district's solid waste management costs.
o This could be a driver in broader implementation.
•	Pounds collected during the one-day pilot and on a similar day later in program implementation.
o This allows for a broader understanding of the food diverted from waste.
•	Number of items collected and categorized.
o This could be useful in setting future lunch menus.
•	Information on changes: recess before/after lunch, share table use, number of kids in school,
number of students served lunch.
o These could help tell a story of waste prevention or help better understand changes in

School District: Most school data is available directly from the OSPI WashinEton Office of Superintendent of
Public Instruction website. Individual schools may track a variety of attributes beyond what is publicly
displayed. Have a conversation about what data needs to be collected and tracked.
Food banks: Food banks and pantries keep detailed metrics
regarding the amount and origin of their donations. Schools
can and should request copies of their donation metrics for
tracking, and this expectation should be detailed in a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) between the school and
food bank. A sample MOU is provided in the appendix.
The amount of consumable food saved for redirection to a
food bank can vary depending on a variety of reasons,
•	Style of lunch-prepack, offer/serve, kitchen/no
•	Demographics -free/reduced lunch percentages,
lunches brought from home versus bought
•	Menu - food served (e.g. pizza versus tuna
•	Time to eat - more food may be wasted if there is not enough time allotted for lunch
•	Recess before or after lunch - recess before lunch results in less wasted lunch food
Conduct a School Food Waste Audit: A One-Day Food Collection
Before beginning a full food recovery program, you can effectively gauge the amount of food leftover per
school by conducting a one-day food waste audit. The audit entails collection all leftover consumable food
and weighing it at the end of all lunch periods for one typical school day. This simple audit only looks at one
component: leftover food that could be donated. For an audit of all food waste, the U.S. EPA and USDA have
created a helpful documented called Guide to Conducting Student Food Waste Audits.
To evaluate the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the School Food Share program, refer
to the Waste Reduction Model (WARM), available through the EPA at https://www.epa.gov/warm.
The benefits of a waste audit include:
•	Providing a visible collection of the unopened/usable food that is targeted for the landfill.
•	Providing a sample weight of collected food eligible for donation to use in estimating food
weight for a full program.
•	Showing the kinds of foods that can typically be donated by the school to the local food bank
Below is a link to helpful EPA tools in assessing food waste.
Local Example
The first school in the pilot in 2014 was
an elementary school of nearly 600 kids
with a full kitchen available to serve a
hot food program. Metrics here show
that roughly 4,000 pounds of food are
redirected to the food bank per school
In a district such as Bellevue, Washington
with 17 elementary schools of similar
size and similar meal setups, this could
mean 68,000 pounds of food donations
per school year for a single district.

School Food Share in Action
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Cafeteria collects food at cleari-up station (picture 1) in bins marked with Food Share signs (picture 2) and
students store it appropriately before pickup (picture 3).

Picture 4
Picture 5
One to two times per week, a food bank-trained volunteer picks up the food from participating schools
(picture 4) and delivers it to the food bank where it is weighed and tracked (picture 5).

Individuals and communities are interested in learning about programs designed to reduce wasted food,
especially if they involve children. Through this program, students learn about the importance of reducing
wasted food and how to both minimize waste and help feed hungry people. We encourage you to share your
program broadly for the benefit of the school and food bank image, as well as to spread the "spark" to
encourage others to participate in similar programs!
Public relation staff for the school district and the partnering food bank(s) can work together to decide how
to celebrate and share the accomplishments of their School Food Share programs.
Video: Early on, the Beilevue School District worked with the EPA and the Food Bus organization to create
and share a video which was posted online via YouTube and the EPA's Facebook page:
Print: Below, the Bremerton School District's success story appeared in their local newspaper.
Bremerton students get a taste of
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Related Programs and Initiatives
The School Food Share program exists as just one of many initiatives and programs in the U.S. aimed at
reducing food waste and redirecting leftover school food to a usable place. Below are a few government and
non-governmental (NGO) programs for additional resources and ideas.
U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge
The EPA's Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) rewards businesses and organizations (including schools) that
reduce wasted food through a formal recognition process: www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-
As part of EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, organizations pledge to improve their sustainable management of
food practices and report their results. The FRC is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program,
which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle. This includes
extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, reuse, recycling, and disposal.
Organizations are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions in preventing
and diverting wasted food. Food Recovery Challenge participants include groups such as grocers, educational
institutions, restaurants, faith organizations, sports and entertainment venues, and hospitality businesses.
&E&V Food Recovery Hierarchy
image of Food Recovery Hierarchy

Benefits of joining EPA's Food Recovery Challenge:
•	Help your community by donating nutritious, leftover food to feed hungry people, not landfills.
•	Save money by purchasing less and/or lowering waste disposal fees.
•	Gain visibility by having your organization's name listed on the EPA's website.
•	Receive recognition through awards and social media.
•	Obtain free technical assistance in the form of webinars, an online database, and resources to help
plan, implement, and track activities.
•	Get a free climate change report that highlights the positive effect on the environment.
If you are implementing a School Food Share program, you are already eligible to join. Sign up today for the
Food Recovery Challenge.
USDA - Department of Agriculture
The USDA offers a variety of food waste education, prevention, and reduction programs available at
The Smarter Lunchroom Assessment: http://smarterlunchrooms.org/resource/lunchroom-self-assessment-
K-12 schools have a special role in not only reducing, recovering, and recycling food waste on their premises,
but also in educating the next generation about recovering wholesome excess food for donation and
reducing food waste to conserve natural resources.
"I know schools are already doing so much to cut food waste and educate children about food and
agriculture. It would be great if we could get hundreds of schools to join the Food Waste Challenge and
spread the word about these good efforts...and stimulate more!"-Janey Thornton, Deputy Undersecretary
for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, USDA
Washington Green Schools
The Washington Green Schools nonprofit organization helps students and communities across Washington
State to create greener, healthier school environments. The nonprofit organization provides a system of
support for school communities to set and achieve sustainability goals, including classrooms resources on
minimizing waste.
King County Green Schools Program
Program representatives provide hands-on guidance, recommendations tailored to each participating school
and district, and support to student Green Teams. The program offers Best Practices Guides in waste
reduction and recycling, healthy schools, energy, water and other conservation areas, and recognizes schools
and districts for Green School actions. King County also provides recycling bins and signs, as well as free
classroom workshops for grades K-12 and an assembly program for elementary schools at
Oakland, California Unified School District Green Gloves Program
For additional resources, best practices, and ideas on school food waste reduction programs, visit Oakland
Unified School District's Green Gloves Program at http://www.ousd.org/greengloves.
Seattle Public Utilities
Seattle Public Utilities offers information and free tools to reduce waste of all kinds, including food waste.

USDA, WSDA, WSU - Feeding Food Scraps to Animals
When food is still edible but not fed to people, feeding it to animals could be the next best option. Some
schools and food banks work with local farmers who receive the food scraps to feed their animals. According
to Dana Dobbs, the Swine Health Cooperative Agreement Manager and a Field Veterinarian at WSDA, feeding
animals produce and bakery food items complies with all appropriate regulations. However, any person
collecting meat scraps or food that has come into contact with meat, must have a permit from WSDA
(currently $10 per year), and must cook the food to a temperature of 212 F for 30 minutes before feeding it
to pigs.
RCW 16.36.105 Swine, garbage feeding, license - Application - Fee - Inspection
WSU Small Farm Finder - Use this to find chicken and pig farmers that might want food scraps.
http://smallfarms.wsu.edu/farms/locate search.asp
USDA information sheet - Summarizes "Garbage Feeding & the Swine Protection Act," and suggests calling
the WA State Department of Agriculture (360-902-1878) or Stacy Woznik with USDA in Tumwater, WA at

Templates & Examples
U.S. EPA Region 10 has provided the following templates as examples for schools to modify and use in their
own school food recovery programs.

Program At-A-Glance Overview
School Food Share
Feeding People, Protecting the Planet, Saving Money
Well over one third of all food produced in the United States ends up in a landfill (NRDC, August
2012). A typical elementary school throws away about 30 lbs. per day of whole fruits and
unopened milk cartons, string cheese, yogurts, muffins, and other packaged food. The wasted
food arises from many factors; school cafeterias funded through the USDA School Nutrition
Program require students to take set servings of particular foods, which often times results in
food going directly into the trash. Meanwhile, one in five children in the U.S. live in homes that
are food insecure (Northwest Harvest. October 2015).
A coalition of partner organizations in Washington State has been collaborating since 2015 to
pilot and implement a School Food Share program to recover and redirect usable food from
schools to local food banks. This program outlines the steps and guidelines by which schools
can - legally and with technical assistance - collect the whole, unopened, leftover edible food
items in the cafeteria, set them aside in bins for donation in available cooler space, and have
the food delivered to the local food bank for immediate distribution to its customers.
School Food Share priorities, in order of preference, are:
1.	Students eat the food served at school breakfast or lunch.
2.	The whole and unopened food feeds those who need it within the school community.
3.	The remaining usable food is redirected quickly to local food banks for distribution.
4.	Finally, anything left that cannot be salvaged gets composted.
Even after those within the school community have eaten their fill, schools can donate
thousands of pounds of food per year to help others in their community. It is a win-win-win
situation: avoid wasted food and all the associated environmental impacts, help feed hungry
people in the community, and save the school district waste removal expenses. Reducing
wasted food and supporting food banks is the right thing to do and teaches students they can
make a positive impact on the environment and their local community.
Steps to get started:
Reach out to key organizations. You will need their permission and assistance to implement a
1.	Your school, district and/or nutrition services.
2.	Your local health department. Washington State Department of Health has released
guidelines on how to participate in the program safely and with regulatory approval.
3.	USDA has already provided approval through its guidance on Food Donation Programs in
Child Nutrition Programs: https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/FNS_Guidance.pdf

Preliminary Email to School Employee Community
From: School principal
Subject: New School Food Share Program
Hello Teachers and Staff,
Next week, our school will begin a new district-approved, Environmental Protection
Agency-encouraged School Food Share Program in the cafeteria. The goal of the
program is to minimize wasted food. We want to encourage students to save unopened
and whole food they don't care to eat, rather than throwing it away. This food will be
collected and sent to our local food bank for immediate distribution to their customers.
Each day, students will be invited to donate any whole or packaged food (muffins,
yogurts, string cheese, milk, etc.) from their school meals for redistribution as an
alternative to putting it in the trash or compost bins.
There is no action required on your part, but your support for the program is
appreciated. There may be a tie-in to your current curriculum and our Green Team,
including science, math, English, art, or other courses.
Thank you!
Email or newsletter to Parents
From: School principal
Subject: Announcing School Food Share Program
Hello Parents,
The	School District, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency, is
launching the School Food Share Program in our school this week. This program is
intended to recover edible food from school cafeterias to distribute to local food banks.
Each day, students will be invited to donate any whole or packaged food from their
school meals (unopened milk, yogurts, applesauce, string cheese, muffins, etc.) that
they don't care to eat. This food will be collected and redistributed as an alternative to
putting it in the trash or compost. We always encourage kids to eat as much as they'd
like, and then donate anything that is leftover and unopened.
We are excited to participate in this program which helps teach our children about the
importance of not wasting food and helping to feed others in our community.
If you do not want your children to participate in this program, please reply to me
Thank you,
Principal Name

Lunchroom Staff and Student Instructions
At the beginning of school or before lunch, on the school intercom - principal or lunch
Hi everyone! Today, [School Namej is starting the School Food Share Program. We will
collect whole, unopened food you don't want or can't eat, and give it to people in our
town who don't have enough to eat. We don't want to give away food that you want to
eat, just the extra.
The way you can help is very simple. At the end of lunch, just put the extra food in the
School Food Share bin at the end of your table. Student volunteers will collect it and put
it in the refrigerator for the food bank to pick up. There are a few rules to follow, so
please pay attention!
As lunch time ends, any whole or unopened food you do not want or cannot eat needs
to be put in the new School Food Share bin. The food you can donate includes milk that
is not open, unopened packaged food, and whole fruits and vegetables. Examples of
good things to donate include unopened applesauce, yogurt, muffins, apples, bananas,
and granola bars. Please do not donate food that you bring from home that was
homemade or was hot at one time.
After lunch, we will put the food into the refrigerator and give it to Food Bank] that
gives it to people who don't have enough food to eat! Thanks for your help.
REMEMBER, eat your food first. We only want to donate food you can't eat, not food
you want to eat. We will remind you again right before lunch is over. Thanks so much
for your help!
Kitchen Manager Checklist - Items needed to start
1.	Announcement to be read to students
2.	Crates and ice packs for collecting recovered items and storing them prior to pick-up
3.	Signage for collection containers
4.	Posters for cafeteria
5.	Sufficient storage in refrigerators
6.	Explicit protocol for people handling perishable items (make sure perishable items do
not stay out for more than one hour unless held on ice)
7.	Agreed upon storage areas from which food banks pick up donated items (both
refrigerated and non-refrigerated)

Example Memorandum of Understanding between School District and Food Bank
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is intended to clarify the roles, responsibilities and
expectations between the	School District (SD) and	Food bank to create and
implement a school lunchroom food recovery and redirection program, aka School Food Share.
The	District is piloting/implementing a program to donate unwanted, unopened and whole
school food to the 	food bank. We expect approximately	pounds of fresh, consumable
food (primarily milk, yogurt, string cheese, muffins, bananas, and other fruit) can donated per
month to the local food bank. The	SD plans to implement a food recovery program in	
more schools under the U.S. EPA Region 10's School Food Share program.
This MOU will:
•	Educate students on hunger in their community
•	Educate students and the school community on the environmental benefits of
minimizing wasted food
•	Save the school system money on food waste disposal costs
•	Provide increased healthy consumable food to the	food bank program
•	Serve as a local	area model of an innovative and progressive full circle
educational program of food production and conservation, in keeping with the
Washington Green Schools programs.
The above goals will be accomplished by undertaking the following activities:
	food bank will:
•	Provide a	food bank representative (staff and/or volunteer) to meet with the school
liaison to provide information and training on the program.
•	Provide a volunteer to pick up the school food	times per week at an agreed upon
•	Provide pre-sterilized bins to transport the food from school to the	food bank.
•	Weigh and record all food received from each school upon arrival at the food bank and
provide a copy of this data monthly to the 	SD.
•	Provide ongoing assistance, support, and consulting to participating schools
•	Agree to be mentioned in EPA documents and case studies as an example School Food
Share program.
	School District will:
•	Provide a point of contact at the District and at each school that joins the program to
work with the	food bank.
•	Support and proactively encourage participation with lunchroom supervisors and

•	Provide cooler/refrigerator space to store food for donation until a	food bank
volunteer can pick it up per schedule.
•	Agree to post flyers/posters in the lunchroom that are provided to educate students on the
•	Agree to be mentioned in EPA documents and case studies as an example School Food
Share program.
Important regulatory information
A number of federal laws encourage food donation in the United States by providing liability
protection to donors or tax incentives.
•	The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act & was created to encourage the
donation of food and grocery products to qualified nonprofit organizations and provides
liability protection to food donors. Under this Act, as long as the donor has not acted with
negligence or intentional misconduct, the organization is not liable for damage incurred as
the result of illness.
•	The U.S. Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 Of specifies procurement contract language
encouraging Federal agencies and contractors of Federal agencies to donate excess
wholesome food to eligible nonprofit organizations to feed food-insecure people in the
United States.
This MOU is at-will and may be modified by mutual consent of authorized officials from the
	SD and	food bank. This MOU shall become effective upon signature by the
authorized officials from both partners and will remain in effect until modified or terminated by
any one of the partners by mutual consent.
Authorized representative	Authorized representative
School District	food bank

School Site Visit - Evaluation Form
Basic School Information:
School	Name/ School District:
Date visited:
School Contacts/role:
Participants in visit:
Number of	students/% free and reduced cost meals :
Green Team? YES	NO		Green Schools program participant? YES	NO	Name of program:
Backpack/After School Feeding Program: YES	NO	Please describe:
Cafeteria-Specific Information
Recess before Lunch	Recess after Lunch	Mixture of both before and after lunch
Number Served: Lunch:	 Breakfast:	Other (describe):	
Food Served in Cafeteria / Lunch room / Classroom?	
Is the food offered	or served	

Name of School
Current Food
Recovery System:
Share Table: YES NO
How much food is left at the end of lunch (number of items/lbs):
Please describe existing system:
Please describe (including cross-contamination you observe):
Please describe (including cross-contamination you observe):
Please describe (including cross-contamination you observe):

Name of School
What is the existing
mealtime and cleanup
process/What is
happening now?

Observations (please
identify name by each

What opportunities
do you see? (please
identify name by
Suggested next steps


Name of School
Other notes and

Pictures and


Signs and Posters
Please keep perishable
foods at proper temperature.
Pickup Days: Tuesdays &
Fridays 1-2pm
Logo Space

Logo Space
For additional pickups or questions:
Contact information for	Food
Bank at (email address) or (phone

•	Un-opened Containers like Milk, Cheese, Yogurt
•	Un-opened Bags like Apple Slices, Carrots
•	Un-peeled Fruits like Oranges, Bananas
•	Anything opened or with a bite out of it!
•	HOT food or food that was heated
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USEPA Region 10
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