PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5)-- Every day at Peralta Elementary School in Phoenix, the cafeteria staff prepares for a line of hungry children. However, when the students would head back to class, it bothered the workers to throw out the leftovers.

So they came up with an idea for a new program to eliminate waste and help their neediest families.

[VIDEO: Phoenix school district takes leftover food to needy families]

"The food we have on the line, we save it,” explains Anna Moya, cafeteria manager at Peralta. “We put it in the freezer.”

Then on Friday, they package the leftovers in bundles they call “snack packs,” and they send home those “snack packs” with students for the weekend.

"The snack packs are the food that has been untouched and uneaten each day,” says Peralta Principal, Christine Ramirez. “It was a twofold opportunity. We are going to eliminate the food waste and we’re also going to be able to use that for our families who really do need the food.”

"It's really helpful that they care about us,” says Isabella Hererra, a student at Peralta. 

Isabella and Nelly Camarillo, both 6th graders, leave their school for the weekend with snack packs.

"We can use it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if we save some, we can use the same food [the next day],” explains Nelly. 

Principal Ramirez believes this program is critical. Meeting their students’ basic needs allows them to meet their educational needs. “Having to come to school on an empty stomach and not being able to make the progress that you need to throughout the day because you are hungry and you can’t really focus [is a real problem].”

When asked about why the cafeteria staff wanted to create this program, Moya said, "We are one team. ‘Una familia.’ We care about each other.”

Right now, this pilot program is place at two different schools in the Cartwright School District. They hope that others will see what they are doing and follow suit.

Gina Maravilla appears every weekday on Good Morning Arizona keeping you up-to-date on your morning commute.  

Join Gina and the rest of the Good Morning Arizona family weekdays starting at 4:30 a.m.


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