School lunches have changed in recent years. From healthier options to offering a variety of choices, but one thing that hasn’t changed, the thousands of pounds of un-served school lunches that winds up in the trash.

Two and a half years ago San Diego Unified School District partnered with Feeding San Diego, and launched, Love Food Not Waste, a program aimed at reducing waste while helping those in need of a meal.

Love Food Not Waste began as a pilot program in 2016. And since, the program has rescued nearly 459,000 pounds of untouched food and served over 362,000 meals to shelters throughout San Diego County.

According to Feeding San Diego, one in six people, or 435,000 people, in San Diego are unsure where their next meal will come from.

Now, since launching the program, 19 middle and high school kitchen “hubs” which produce food for 159 school cafeterias collects packaged and kitchen-wrapped items that would have otherwise gone into the garbage and loads them onto trucks from Feeding San Diego which then delivers them to shelters and non-profits throughout the region.

“It’s awesome,” said one of the program creators, Janet Whited, and environmental specialist for San Diego Unified School District. “It’s awesome to not only help the environment but also help people in need of a meal.”

Whited and longtime chef Bob Brody have run the program since its launch.

Brody told NBC 7 Responds that during his six decades in the restaurant industry he saw an unimaginable amount of food go into the trash can.

“It is just a tremendous amount, more than anyone could ever imagine,” said Brody.

Brody and Whited tell NBC 7 that the program serves other purposes than just feeding those in need and reducing waste, it teaches students and others about giving and helping those in need.

“We have all of this food and all these people who sometimes eat and sometimes do,” said Mission Bay High School student Sita Antel. “It’s so good to make use of the extra.”

Link to the NBC7 story and video here.