Waste not: BCPS cafeterias donate to help area food banks


On a normal school day, Tammy Di Domenico might linger by the east entrance to George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology to wait for a delivery of milk, salad or beef patties, all in preparation for another day of serving students in the school's cafeteria.

But, on a recent summer day not long after school ended for the school year, Di Domenico and Veronica Novak from Cockeysville Middle School waited near the school's side door not to receive food but to give it away. The two were among dozens of school cafeteria managers from across Baltimore County Public Schools who amassed their end-of-the-year, unused food – milk, snacks, juices, bread and other staples – to donate to area food banks.

"It's a great idea, really," said Di Domenico, who prepared pallets of buns, orange juice, milk, yogurt  and a few cucumbers for pickup by a Lutheran church affiliated with the Maryland Food Bank. "In past years, we would have had to throw away the food we hadn't been able to use."

Carver Center cafeteria manager Tammy Di Domenico readies food donations from other schools for area food banks.

Among the items to be donated were plenty of buns and breads.

This summer marks the first time that BCPS donated its excess food to the needy, though the school system has had a longtime relationship with the Food Bank through two other programs. According to Karen Levenstein, director of the BCPS Office of Food and Nutrition Services, food banks have received excess food from both the school system's warehouse in Cockeysville and from several sites that participate in a summer meals program administered by BCPS.  

"We served [students] right up to the end of school this year," Levenstein said. "But there's always going to be some left over, and we wanted to be able to repurpose that."

This year, leftover food from schools across the county funneled to 16 middle and high school sites, where food bank associates collected it. Levenstein says her office will look for ways to improve and expand upon the program for future years.

"The bottom line," she said, "is that we'd rather our excess food go toward feeding needy people in the community than going in the trash can."

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