Business

Food for Free takes over Cambridge school donations

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Food for Free, a Cambridge nonprofit that collects unused food from area grocery stores, farms, and retailers to distribute to residents in need, is taking over the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. The program sends meals home every Friday to Cambridge public school students in low-income families, filling backpacks with milk, fresh fruit, two breakfasts, and two lunches for every child in the family. Food for Free has been providing fresh fruit to the program since it began in 2013 and will now provide oversight, allowing it to expand its reach to more students and other school systems.

Weekend Backpack program founder Alanna Mallon will continue to run the organization. Nearly half of the students in Cambridge public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Last year, Food for Free helped launched two pilot programs at the Kennedy-Longfellow School in Cambridge. One allows parents to select food in a farmers’ market-like setting at the school once a month; the other provides frozen meals for students to take home once a week.

Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.