Pack to Plate is a community solution that seeks to increase food security and food literacy in Athens. Pack to Plate is also dedicated to food rescue; saving health, fresh food from going to waste and delivering it to those who need it most. This organization is the brainchild of current and past MPA students Sam Perren, Sarah Sheehan, and Amanda Newell. The organization was granted official 501c3 tax-exempt state is October of 2014, but has been in full operation since spring.

Athens, Georgia has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. for a county with over 100,000 residents (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). One aspect of poverty in Athens is widespread food insecurity: while 82% of students receive free and reduced price lunches at school, more than 1 in 3 students in Athens public schools lack reliable access to food over the weekend (Clarke County School District, 2014). Pack to Plate is a community solution that will increase food security and equip participants with the tools they need to cultivate a healthier lifestyle, all the while reducing food waste in our community. Pack to Plate will distribute fresh food to kids who need it most. They partner with community stakeholders to deliver healthy food to children in public schools (throughout our Title I district) for weekend consumption. Each year the U.S. lets 141 trillion calories of food go to waste – enough food to fill Sanford Stadium to the brim (USDA, 2010, Bloom, 2010). To put this fact into perspective, these wasted calories account for 31% of the annual food supply in the United States (USDA, 2010). On a typical Friday in Athens, the average grocery store purges almost 1,000 pounds of food. Pack to Plate aims to connect these unused resources with Athens’ most food-insecure – the children who go home without a guaranteed weekend meal. From retailers, to the pack, to the plate!

Five years from now, Pack to Plate would love to provide fresh, healthy weekend food supplements and a high-quality food literacy curriculum to every child in need in our community. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, they want to provide as many children as possible with healthy fruits and vegetables to take home each weekend, starting with Fowler Drive Elementary. Food is obtained in two ways: (1) food donations from retailers and (2) food purchased through donated funds. The lack of access to food is not the only problem facing children in Athens; educating kids on the merits of healthy eating and making healthy food “cool” is equally important. Through partnerships with teachers, schools, the University of Georgia, and community champions Pack to Plate plans to develop and implement a world-class food literacy curriculum that does exactly that.

For more information and ways to help, please visit the Pack to Plate website.