An alarming realization from Kern County Public Health, as our county has one of the highest hunger levels in the nation.
That’s why they’ve launched a program to try to combat the problem by rescuing surplus edible food from restaurants and schools that might otherwise go to waste.
The program is still in pilot mode, but since the school year started it has already rescued more than seven tons of food.
After a successful test-run at Cesar Chavez Elementary, the program was expanded into four other schools in the Bakersfield City School District; Cato Middle School, Fletcher Elementary, Stern Middle School and Hort Elementary.
Students place their uneaten food into three separate bins: one for dry food, one for cold food and one for produce.
At the end of the lunch hour, drivers from the public health department pick up the food and deliver it to local distribution sites. They estimate about five to 20 pounds of food is saved in each school everyday.
The program’s success has now crossed over into the restaurant business with Subway joining the effort and just this week, a new addition came in: Sully’s on Gosford and Stockdale Avenue.
“This is delicious fresh food, you know, salads that may be expiring, sandwiches, yogurts, bakery items,” said Michelle Corson, public information officer with the Kern County Public Health Department. “So, we are thrilled to have them be a part of our program.”
The special part about the program is that it not only helps feed people in need, but it also employees them. Waste Hunger not Food’s drivers are employed through the Homeless Center Job Development.
“It’s empowering, every time I wake up, I know I’m doing something to help people that are hurt, feeding them, nutrition and just making a difference in their day,” said Vokki Davenport, driver for the program.
Public health officials tell me this program already has five more schools showing interest.
They plan to expand to other school districts, restaurants and markets starting early next year.
If you are interested in joining in the effort, you can sign up at wastehungerkerncounty.com