THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
The United States Department of Agriculture has been a proponent of expanding the national movement to use food recovery and gleaning as an effective means of reducing food waste and helping the hungry for decades. The NYS Senate (S5664-B) and Assembly (A2409-B) passed a Bill effective March 2018 to amend Education Law Section 305, adding a new Subdivision 32 that encourages school districts to establish plans for the donation of excess, unused, edible food from school meals to local voluntary food assistance programs. Consequently, we are frequently asked about diverting leftovers to this worthy cause.
Child Nutrition Program regulations require schools to prepare and maintain food production records to control production. Under-producing food items results in unhappy customers when food items run out before the end of service. Overproduction results in increased food costs, which is unwise when you are trying to keep the cost of the meal to students as low as possible.
While school food directors/managers should continue to plan production for one meal per child per day, we realize that forecasting the amount of food to prepare is a difficult task, which may result in leftover food. However, there are occasions when it is appropriate to donate wholesome leftovers, which cannot be reused, to appropriate non-profit organizations that feed the needy.
We are not advocating overproduction or increased food costs in order to be charitable. Whenever possible, leftovers should be served the next day or frozen for another day. However, there are certain circumstances that could result in your inability to retain food items. For example, a power failure or snowstorm prior to a long vacation may result in the inability to hold food safely. When donating food, be sure that the transfer is in accordance with State and local sanitation procedures and health codes, and that correct sanitation procedures are followed to ensure the food quality and safety of the food throughout the transportation process.
We encourage directors/managers to become aware of food recovery efforts in their area so they know the procedures to follow.