Program Spotlight:

Spofford Food For Thought


Spofford Food For Thought is a Food Rescue program started at Spofford Pond Elementary School in Boxford, MA in which students are encouraged to donate their uneaten lunch items to benefit someone in their community. The plan is simple: place bins on all the cafeteria tables in the lunchroom; students will place their uneaten food into the bins, and the saved food is then donated to a homeless shelter, Emmaus House in Haverhill, MA. The simplicity of this plan allows the program to accomplish its goal – to bridge the gap between food waste and food insecurity. Over the run of the program, 3 months last spring, and 6 months this school year, about 568 pounds of food have been donated to benefit the over 300 people struggling with homelessness and mental illness in the community. But the community service aspect is not the only benefit to Food For Thought – it contributes greatly to abating the food waste footprint of Spofford Pond School. As food waste in landfills produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by not throwing this food away, the students are reducing their impact on global warming. To further emphasize this point, the 5th graders at Spofford were given a presentation by Girl Scout, Pranali Ashara, on the impact that food waste has on the environment, highlighting the need for programs like these in school districts across the country.

Below is a more detailed look into the Spofford Food For Thought program.

  • Foods which can be donated to the program include any packaged and uneaten food such as: milk cartons, cheese sticks, yogurts, fresh fruit, chips, granola bars, etc. 
  • Food which should NOT be donated include anything opened or eaten such as: pizza, salad, eaten fruit, or any open chips, granola packages. 
  • To promote the program, a kickstart video was made which goes through and overview of the program as well as explains the rules to the kids. This video will be played each September to remind older students, and introduce new students to the program. The video is posted below.
  • Posters were also made with the help of Girl Scout troops  72386 and 62936 and the Boy Scouts of Pack 41. These are hung throughout the hallways of the school. 
  • Noon attendants and the 3rd grade class is responsible for putting out baskets at the beginning of first lunch each day.
  • Student volunteers are responsible for collecting baskets at end of last lunch and sorting the food into a large bin which is stored in the fridge. All food is stored in the Food Services fridge in the cafeteria until donation day. 
  • Saved food is donated on Tuesdays to Emmaus House in Haverhill, MA by a group of dedicated parent volunteers. Parent volunteers weigh the food on a weighing scale in the Nurse’s Office before donating to keep a track of the success of the program.
  • As well, if a student in the school does not have a snack, they can visit the Nurse to receive a free one. These snacks are donated to the Nurse from the Food For Thought program, thus allowing the program to not only give back to the community, but also back to the school itself. The Nurse will collect certain foods from the donation pile that she would like to give to the students. 

An image of the bins that are placed on the cafeteria tables. Each bin has the Spofford Food For Thought logo on them.

A poster explaining to the students about which food can and cannot be donated to the program. Poster made by Girl Scouts of Troops 72386 and 62936.

A poster encouraging students to donate to the program with a catchphrase, “Don’t Waste a Good Taste! Donate!”. Poster made by Girl Scouts of Troop 62936. 


Students donating food items to the program.

Some food items which can be donated are: chips, fresh fruit (apples, bananas), granola bars, yogurts, and milk cartons.

Student Volunteers helping out with sorting the donated food after lunches to be placed in the fridge for storage.

Food is stored in the blue Food For Thought bin in the fridge and then donated to Emmaus House in Haverhill, MA.


This is the Kickstart video which is shown to students each September in order to remind older students about the program and introduce younger students to it.