Moorhead Area Public Schools is partnering with West Fargo and Fargo Public Schools, with the support of community agencies, to pilot School Lunch Repack Pilot Program, a one-month program to distribute unserved leftover meals to students throughout our community. In Clay County, the program will be piloted out of Moorhead High School and will aim to reduce food waste and address food insecurity experienced by youth in our community. Cass County pilot sites include South High School in Fargo and Liberty Middle School in West Fargo.
Moorhead Area Public Schools serves 709,290 school lunches each year with 34% of students receiving free/reduced meals in the 2020-21 school year. Beginning March 8, at the end of each lunch service, remaining menu items will be packaged in microwave-safe containers donated by Power Plate Meals. The portioned meals will be cooled, labelled and frozen before final delivery to Moorhead High School. Each meal will be labelled with allergen alerts, as well as instructions for safe handling and reheating.
Beyond a reduction in food waste, the program's primary goal is to provide meals to students experiencing food insecurity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “a lack of consistent access to enough food to live an active and healthy life.”
Recent data from Feeding America indicates that in Clay County, 12.7% of children under the age of 18 experience food insecurity.
71% of families participate in the Supplemental Nutrition & Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program that provides support to low-income families in the purchasing of nutritional food items.
In a 2018 study by The Great Plains Food Bank, area families listed lack of affordable housing, lack of transportation and poverty as their root causes of food insecurity.
While the pilot will close the first week of April, the school’s food pantries will continue to disperse the frozen, repacked meals through the end of the year, or until they are all claimed. The Great Plains Food Bank and United Way of Cass-Clay will collect data from all three districts during the four weeks. At the culmination of the program, data will be evaluated to determine the pilot’s reach and impact on the community. The pilot is made possible in part by financial support from United Way of Cass-Clay and the support from Great Plains Food Bank, Power Plate Meals, Fargo Cass Public Health, Clay County Public Health, and the Cass-Clay Hunger Coalition.