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Food Waste Prevention and Donation at School

Like most organizations that serve prepared food, schools typically have surplus edible food. With some planning, this food can feed people instead of going to waste. StopWaste works with school districts to implement district-wide food share and food donation programs to recover and redistribute K-12 edible surplus food.

Setting up food waste prevention programs has already shown great results in Alameda County schools:

  • One elementary school rescued an average of 170 surplus food items, each day of the school year.
  • One high school rescued 4,000 surplus food items from the back of the kitchen in one year.

To view our food waste curriculum, visit our K-12 Educational Resources pages.

Smart Cafeteria Initiative

StopWaste’s K-12 Smart Cafeteria Initiative supports Alameda County public schools to:

  • Reduce wasted food through prevention, food share, re-serving and donation
  • Reduce food related packaging and single-use utensils by replacing disposables with reusables.

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Resources for School Food Donation

Food Donation Guide

This four-page introduction for schools interested in setting up a donation program for surplus edible food includes guidance on legal protections, program models, food safety precautions and how to find and form a partnership with a food recipient non-profit partner. Developed in partnership with Alameda County Department of Environmental Health.

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Food Donation Guide: Holiday Breaks

Before the holiday breaks, schools often end up with a surplus of food as their kitchens clear out their inventory. Piloting a holiday food donation during this time provides schools with the opportunity to test their procedures and evaluate the compatibility of their chosen non-profit partner. Additionally, the pilot can help schools bring them closer to compliance with state law SB 1383, cut costs, reduce food waste, and help those in need.

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School Food Recovery Agreement - Simplified Template

SB 1383 regulations requires local education agencies with an on-site food facility to hold a written agreement with food recovery organizations and/or services that will recover their surplus edible food. This template is a simplified food recovery agreement that can fulfill this requirement. 

Download the Template  

OUSD Nutrition Services Food Donation Agreement 2023

This example food donation agreement, developed and shared by Oakland Unified School District, provides an example and template for complying with SB 1383 local education agency food recovery and donation requirements. 

Download the Template

Resources for School Food Share Tables

Food Share Table Guide

Step-by-step instructions to setting up a food share table where students can place unwanted, sealed or uneaten food items for other students and for donation. Developed in partnership with Alameda County Department of Environmental Health.

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Food Share Tables - COVID 19 Update

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state temporarily prohibited self-service which led to all food share table programs around the state being paused. Given the very low risk of transmission from surfaces and shared objects, self-service food bars and food share tables are now allowed by the California Department of Education and the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health.

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School Food Share Educational Video Series

This series of 4 videos address the needs of food share programs in schools. Each video was created for different audiences – elementary school students, middle & high school students, and administrators.

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Additional Resources

Did you know that food is the #1 category of waste that is rotting in U.S. landfills and is contributing to climate change? Check out to learn tips, tricks and stories about preventing food waste at home.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers resources and strategies to help reduce food waste at K-12 schools – from information on offer-versus-serve to liability protections for schools that wish to donate food, and more. 

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