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Creative partnerships are a key part of outreach for the Fork It Over! food rescue program

Portland Public Schools & Partners


Portland Public Schools Supports Food Donation Programs through Great Partnerships.

By Nancy Bond, Resource Conservation Coordinator for Portland Public Schools


Portland Public Schools (PPS) has happily and successfully participated in the Fork It Over food donation program since 2004. At PPS the Resource Conservation Coordinator worked with the Director of Nutrition Services and her staff to coordinate participation from our schools.


Food prep and pickup logistics

Initial conversations about our participation revolved around liability issues regarding donations, how to keep the food safe between when it is packaged and the time it reaches the agency’s location, how the food needed to be prepared for the agency’s collection, and pickup logistics. The Good Samaritan Law offers liability protection since we are donating food that is in good condition and edible. We determined that the best way for us to package the food was to box it, label it, and put it in the walk-in cooler with the agency’s name on it and a “Fork It Over donation” label on it. The agency representative checks in at the school office and is escorted to the kitchen where they are able to pick up the donation.


Working with partners

At first we connected with agencies that were in close proximity to the schools. Over time we developed relationships with agencies that had the best ability to guarantee collection during the short window we can provide. Now we work with five agencies on a regular basis­: Golden Harvesters, No Child Left Behind, Teen Challenge, Urban Gleaners, Generous Ventures, and Neighborhood House when they are able to participate.


Donating when it makes sense

PPS Nutrition Services staff coordinate food donations four times a year, immediately before the long breaks: Thanksgiving, Winter, Summer and Spring breaks. Items donated include fruits, vegetables, bread, juice and breakfast bars. We usually lack enough time to properly cool leftover entrees, thus we don’t typically donate entrees.  Each collection has averaged about 3,245 pounds collected from 84 sites, nearly 39 pounds per school. That’s about two grocery bags full.


More than 92 tons of food donated

This is an excellent example of the “Triumph of the Commons,” where every single small action contributes to the greater whole. While it might not seem like it is worth the effort to donate a grocery bag’s worth of food, to the recipients it means the world. Over the last 10 years, we have donated more than 92 tons to help feed hungry adults and children, in our community. And that benefits all of us.


For questions about the program, please contact Nancy Bond, Resource Conservation Coordinator,, 503-916-6383, or Ben Dandeneau, Nutrition Services Program Manager,, 503-916-3275.