THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
The issue of handling leftover food in school kitchens has been brought to our attention. In some instances there seems to be confusion about the proper procedures related to leftover food.
Child Nutrition Program regulations require schools to prepare and maintain accurate food production records in order to control production. Schools only receive reimbursement for one meal per student per day for breakfast and lunch, and meal planning should attempt to reflect this. Overproduction should not be promoted or become a frequent occurrence as it results in increased food costs and food safety concerns. In most cases there should be minimal overproduction and whenever possible, wholesome leftovers should be served the next day or frozen for another day. Proper cooling/reheating procedures must be followed in accordance with local and New York State Department of Health regulations.
In some circumstances where there is an inability to retain the food items safely, such as the occurrence of a power failure or long, unexpected school closures, food may be donated to organizations that feed the needy. The food must be transferred in accordance with State and local sanitation and food safety codes. Food service directors and managers are encouraged to become aware of food recovery efforts in their area so they know the procedures to follow. It is important to remember that donated food items are not eligible for reimbursement through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and that overproduction should not be intentional for the sake of being charitable.
Under no circumstances should school or food service employees or students be allowed to take leftovers home or to consume leftovers on school premises after the end of the meal service. When employees are allowed to bring home leftovers, it can result in consistent, purposeful overproduction with the intent to take home the leftovers. This practice is a violation of federal regulation and considered a misuse of federal dollars which may be subject to fiscal action at the discretion of the state agency.
Contact your Child Nutrition Program representative if you have any further questions regarding leftover foods/gleaning.