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School cafeteria packages unused food into take-home meals for kids in need 👏

"There's a peace of mind to know there's something in the fridge," one mom shared.

School cafeteria packages unused food into take-home meals for kids in need 👏
Cultivate

No one wants to see children going hungry, but we can't turn a blind eye to the fact that more than 13 million children in the United States live in households that don't regularly have enough food.

One school district in Indiana has its eyes wide open to this problem and has found a creative way to ensure kids have nutritious food not just at school, but also over the weekend. It's sending them home with backpacks full of good food that would have otherwise been wasted.

As first reported by WSBT, Elkhart School District students are served breakfast and lunch at school, and now those who need it are also going home with leftovers, packaged as frozen meals, thanks to a non-profit called Cultivate.

Cultivate takes high-quality food that's been prepared for use in school cafeterias but not served and saves it from going to waste by packing into frozen meal trays and then filling cooler backpacks with the trays. "Over-preparing is just part of what happens," Cultivate's board president, Jim Conklin, explains. "We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it."

Twenty students at Woodland Elementary School are now benefiting from the backpack program, which is a pilot that could grow.

On Friday afternoons these kids take home backpacks filled with frozen, easy to prepare meals, eight trays in all. That can make a huge difference for parents who don't know how they're going to feed their kids over the weekend.

The Washington Post spoke with Angel Null, a mom with two kids (an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter) at Woodland Elementary. Her husband was laid off last fall, and the family has struggled financially since. "There's times where its been just peanut butter and jelly," she tells the Post.

But thanks to the backpack program, Null's children came home last Friday with frozen meals to keep them full over the weekend. The got foods like French toast, red velvet macadamia nut pancakes, hot dogs and drumsticks.

For Null, this community support is a huge stress reliever during a difficult time. "There's a peace of mind to know there's something in the fridge," Null said.

As the Post reports, the cafeteria staff at Woodland were thrilled when the backpack program was announced, as they hate throwing away leftover food when they know there are hungry kids in the student body.

This is an amazing example of a community helping parents and children, and hopefully, one that expands to other school districts.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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