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Instead of throwing away food, Barrington School District 220 students are donating

  • Posted by Barrington Hills
  • On February 22, 2017


Students Count Apples Collected

Sunny Hill Elementary fourth-graders Liz Tinajero (left) and Valerie Fernandez count and mark down the number of apples collected at the cafeteria as part of a new program at Barrington School District 220. (Jeff Krage / Pioneer Press)

Originally Published: Barrington Courier-Review
by Todd Shields – Pioneer Press

Student council members at Sunny Hill Elementary in Carpentersville this year have started coming back to the cafeteria after lunchtime to collect, count and weigh unused food left behind by their classmates.

The effort, a part of a new program at Barrington School District 220, has led to many unintended lessons, primarily one on how much food goes uneaten in a week, said Sunny Hill fourth-grader Liz Tinajero.

“This is a good deed because we’re saving food, instead of throwing it away,” she said.

Tinajero and other Sunny Hill student council members collect unused food each week and help transport the items to area food pantries that serve low-income families.

As part of an expanded program this year, the nonprofit Mindful Waste introduced the food recycling program at Countryside, Hough, Lines, North Barrington, Barrington Middle School — Prairie Campus and Sunny Hill schools in District 220.

The goal behind the program is to prevent food waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, according to Jennifer Kainz and Renee Blue.

Both founded Mindful Waste in 2015 and began a pilot program of their recycling idea a year later at Countryside Elementary in District 220, they said.

Last spring, the school collected 750 pounds of unopened and unwanted food for local pantries.

“Based on waste audits we have conducted throughout District 220 schools, there is over 200 pounds of perfectly good food thrown away each day,” Kainz said.

District 220 officials have said the new program teaches young students the value of saving food to help others in need while they also work to help stock the shelves at area pantries.

Food pantries that work with District 220 on the program include Cuba Township near Barrington, Barrington Township, FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville, Carpentersville Middle School in Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 and Mount St. Joseph Intermediate Care Facility in Lake Zurich.

“This is great for the kids because it’s a service learning project and they can do it independently without much help,” said Amanda Domeracki, a fourth-grade teacher at Sunny Hill. “They take ownership.”

The new program also shows kids different ways to give back to the community, said Elizabeth Jimenez-Bure, a Sunny Hill art teacher.

“We’re showing our kids you don’t have to have money to help people,” she said. “Our students are just using their two hands.”

Teresa DeCicco, manager of Barrington Township Food Pantry, said the program delivers fresh food items for patrons on a regular basis. The fact that the project has involved so many District 220 students and cafeterias also is unusual to see, she said.

“Someone is being proactive about food waste happening in school cafeterias,” DeCicco said. “It’s nice to get fresh food items delivered to the pantry — apples, oranges, milk, cheese sticks.”

Twitter @tshields19

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