Teens petition to end Houston food waste as community service

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NORTHEAST HOUSTON-- Have you heard of the Munchie Crunchies? If not, read on. They're a group of Fifth Ward kids that want to end hunger in Houston. And they actually have a plan to do it.

They're also juveniles on probation for minor offenses, like fighting at school or possessing pot. "Instead of doing the traditional community service, where it's more of a punitive decision," explains Vantrise Menefee of Harris County Juvenile Probation Services, "we allow the kids to partake in service-learning. That's a program where the youth have their voice. It's all about what they choose to do. It's all about how they choose to give back to the community."

What the self-proclaimed Munchie Crunchies have chosen is to put an end to hunger. It's something many of them know about, living in the poorer parts of Fifth Ward. "They know what's it's like to have a limited amount of food or to have to ration out what to eat today or tomorrow," says Menefee.

"I told the kids about the law in France that was passed (in February) that grocery stores cannot throw out food," says Harris County juvenile probation officer Matthew Schippers, who works with the Munchie Crunchies, "and they just took off with that idea and came up with a petition."

That Change.org petition asks Mayor Turner to require restaurants, grocery stores and markets to stop throwing away edible food. Instead, as with the French law, they would be required to share it with charities who would parcel it out to hungry Houstonians.

It will take 21,000 signatures to make the petition official. If you like to make yours one of those, click here.

Menefee says what the kids get out of this is more than just fulfilling their community service requirements, "More than just saying, 'Hey, I picked up this trash this Saturday and I cleaned up the streets.' This is more or less like, 'I was able to achieve something. I feel like I've accomplished something. I have put a goal in place, and I was able to accomplish that and surpass that.'"

What mayor wouldn't want to get behind that?