What Does Tulsa Public Schools Do With Leftover Cafeteria Food?

Monday, August 30th 2010, 4:43 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Kids are notoriously picky eaters. Whether they bring a lunch from home or bring money to buy what the school menu offers, it's inevitable that a lot of food ends up in the trash.

But a News On 6 viewer wanted to know what happens to the leftover food that isn't sold.

If you are a parent of a teenager, you know how much they can eat. And by the time that midday bell rings, their stomachs are grumbling for lunch.

But sometimes their eyes are bigger than their stomachs. So how does a school make sure that most food winds up in bellies and not in trash bins?

"We make sure we feed them close to portion size," said Corbin Anderson, Program and Marketing Director for Tulsa Public Schools. "And are getting the nutrients they should be getting."

Tulsa Public Schools says they must follow federal guidelines and keep a close eye on the cafeteria.

"Because everything we do is federally funded, what they don't want to have happen is for food to be produced intentionally and be taken somewhere else and distributed at someone else's discretion," Anderson said.

That means what is leftover cannot be given away for kids to take home or even dropped off at soup kitchens.

"Federal guidelines say none of our food is allowed to leave the premises," said Anderson.

TPS feeds thousands of hungry students. They wouldn't show the News On 6, but insisted there wasn't much leftover after the kids went back to class.

"We know if certain days we have something the kids really enjoy," Anderson said. "We can monitor those numbers in kids participating with us and allow us to prepare more next time so we don't run out and also cautious to not prepare too much as well."

"In our case, we have very limited amounts of leftovers because we practice 'batch cooking,' meaning that we actually cook the meals during mealtime so we cook just as much as we need. Fruits and vegetables which have remained sealed in a sanitary manner and kept chilled can be reserved the next day. We are allowed to make contractual arrangements with local food banks, but that doesn't happen very often," said Pat Meadows, Director of Child Nutrition, Jenks Public Schools.