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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Handling Leftovers

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.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.