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Alina Krueger '29 Introduces Panther Plates at Ranney

On Friday, April 5, Ranney kicked off a new initiative called Panther Plates, led by Alina Krueger '29. Panther Plates  is an initiative to take the leftover food from the dining halls and get it delivered to local organizations in Monmouth County who fight food insecurity. The pick-ups will happen every Friday after school and are being overseen by Chef Chris DiStefano.
“It is so impressive that Alina feels strongly about helping others in this way, that she has made the effort to put this together, and that she is devoting work to it herself,” said Head of Middle School David Ketcham. “We often talk in the Middle School about ‘standing in someone else’s shoes’, and this project puts that idea on full display.”

Alina is working with FoodRecovery.org, which is helping to coordinate the transportation of food and matching it with local nonprofits. FoodRecovery.org works with schools, warehouses, caterers, and other businesses to take excess food and distribute it locally to those facing food insecurity. Leading the efforts for FoodRecovery.org is Allie Wilson, Director of Northeast Operations. 
Ranney is the first school in the state to work with FoodRecovery.org for this program. There are other programs in other states, but most are not student-led. 
“We are working to increase youth activism participation since the education piece is so important,” said Wilson.  “Seeing what Alina has been doing in this aspect of supporting those who are food insecure locally has been inspiring. She’s been a fantastic person to work with and we are excited to continue to grow this program.”
Below is a Q&A with Alina on how this initiative came to fruition and her vision for the future:
How did you come up with the idea for the Panther Plates?
During Ranney food drives, I was surprised to learn that so many people experience food insecurity in our area.  My cousin, Eva, recently started a food recovery initiative at her school in NYC, and I thought that was a great idea!  We have such a wide variety of food at lunch each day, and I wondered what happened to the food that wasn’t eaten.  It seemed like a good opportunity to share some of that privilege with others in need.
How did you connect with FoodRecovery.org?
My cousin and aunt put us in touch with FoodRecovery.org as they connect organizations with extra food to communities in need.  Allie Wilson organizes the drivers to come to pick up the food and deliver it to local community kitchens that feed the hungry.   On our first collection, we delivered 75 meals to the Reformation Community Food Pantry in Long Branch.
What is your goal for this year and then what is your vision for this program in the future?
I would love to rescue 1,000 meals before the end of the year and encourage other schools to start similar initiatives.  I hope it starts a trend of more donations - like how I was inspired by my cousin.  In the future, I hope the program becomes more student-led.  Right now Chef Chris and his team are packing up the food, but as it grows, maybe students can help do that too so it’s not more work for the dining hall team.
Why is this project meaningful to you?
At home my parents always stress how important it is to be grateful for what we have and to help those who are less fortunate. Having access to food should not be a privilege - it is a human right.  No one should be going hungry especially when there is so much good quality food that is being thrown out.  The concept of Panther Plates is so simple but it makes a big difference to someone who does not have enough to eat. 
How has it been to work with Chef Chris and the staff?
Panther Plates wouldn’t exist without Chef Chris and his team!  He was excited to be involved and was happy to help. They package up all the surplus food and have it ready for collection on Friday afternoons. It's been a pleasure working with him and the rest of the staff.  
What other activities are you involved with at Ranney?
I joined Ranney in 6th grade after living in Copenhagen and London!  I love that Ranney has so many activities and clubs.  Right now I am playing lacrosse, but I was also on the soccer and basketball teams.

Ranney School

235 Hope Road
Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Tel. 732.542.4777

Our mission is to know and value every child, nurturing intellectual curiosity and confidence, and inspiring students to lead honorably, think creatively, and contribute meaningfully to society.