Local high school student's idea saves food nationally

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Food waste – it’s a huge problem across our country, even within schools. But an East Mecklenburg high school senior has created a plan to change that and proving that to make a difference all you have to do is try.

“It was just a matter of we have a problem and here’s a common sense solution, so lets see if we can do something with it,” said Hanna Wondmagegn.

Wondmagegn says an economics teacher wopened her eyes to the amount of food thrown away in cafeterias. She got the school's and health official's approval to begin a food rescue program at East Mecklenburg High in east Charlotte.

“They were on board, we didn’t have any hesitation from anybody,” said Wondmagegn.

Her plan was simple; put a cooler filled with ice in the middle of the cafeteria. Students are encouraged to place any leftover, unopened, pre-packaged foods in it.

“Salads, fruit cups, oranges, they could set them in there and then if students are still hungry, you can go in and grab an extra orange or milk to drink.”

Whatever is leftover at the end of the school day is collected and brought to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Independence Library, located across the street from the school.

“They had a budget cut last year and so they couldn’t offer snacks to the students and it’s a very popular spot for our students and other high schools in the area. Some people will stay there until 7 at night without anything to eat,” said Wondmagegn.

She says now students or any other people in the library have healthy snacks to eat. Her program has earned her the title of National Student Program Director for K-12 Schools, for a non-profit called Food Rescue. 

Wondmagegn says she been able to help start similar programs around the country and here in Charlotte.

“I’ve already worked with students from California, New Jersey and different areas.”

So far, four additional CMS schools are developing plans to begin their own Food Rescue program. She says her goal before she graduates, is for every school in the district to participate.

A big accomplishment for a person who dared to try. 

“To have people come up and say that I’ve impacted them and they get to follow their dreams as well, it’s been an amazing opportunity,” said Wondmagegn.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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