SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- More than four million meals have been distributed to families in the Springfield Public School system since the beginning of the pandemic, but a landlord claims some of that food is getting trashed before it can reach the people in need.

“We provided 98,596 meals this weekend to families, and our total since we closed down in March is 4,217,506,” Superintendent Daniel Warwick said.

Springfield Public Schools said struggling families are helped by their food program, along with dozens of partner organizations in the city that receive bulk meals from the district as well.

One local property owner claimed she’s discovered food boxes helping no one because they’re being left in her dumpster.

“They come in the middle of the night usually right around midnight,” she said.

This property owner said since the end of September, her Indian Orchard dumpster has been stuffed with the opposite of one man’s trash -- boxes of what could have been another family’s much-needed treasure.

“We found perfectly good food with cellophane over it,” said Jill Johnson of PJ&J Realty. “It did say Springfield School Systems on it and the expiration date for some of these was February of 2021.”

Johnson, who didn’t want her face on camera, works for the realty company that owns the apartment complex and dumpster.

Johnson checked the camera footage and said that on four separate occasions, people in a truck dumped bulk-packaged food items in the private dumpster.

“Three times its cases and cases of food, one time in between it was milk cartons,” she said.

“We would not be providing a family with food packaged in that way,” Springfield Schools Spokesperson Azell Cavaan said.

She said the district works with several organizations to distribute food to children and families in need in the city.

“We really would expect and ask those organizations to take what you need and to leave what you don’t,” she said.

Western Mass News also reached out to Sodexo, one of the companies whose name was printed on the box in the photos Johnson provided. They said they have not detected any issues with deliveries of food saying in part, “We have not disposed of food in private dumpsters and would not because we have our own specialized process for food disposal...”

“This is a USDA program, and so it’s very important to our community and we want to make sure that the resources are used responsibly,” Cavaan said.

Johnson’s concern isn’t just throwing money away, but also wasted chances to feed those in need.

“It’s a crying shame to see that much food, cases and cases, I mean hundreds of meals in a dumpster,” she said.

Springfield schools said based on the packaging, this is not food that was dumped by a family because it is still in bulk form, not broken down into individual carrying bags.

Johnson said she is also concerned about the trespassing on her property.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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