A team of moms and other volunteers stepped up for lunch duty in Metro East cafeterias on Thursday.

Their goal was to continue the mission of “Project 612”, which saved more than 10,000 pounds of perfectly good food from the trash bin in 2016 alone.

Organizer Gwyn Marini says it all started several years before, when her daughter returned home with questions about how much food was thrown out by some of her classmates.

“I was probably in first or second grade.” Said middle-school aged Julietta Marini on Thursday. “This teaches kids that it’s not okay to waste food.”

“I realized that this was probably happening on a larger scale.” Her mother explained on Thursday. “and we wanted to save the leftovers from school and give them to people who can use it.”

The volunteers now regularly collect unused sealed-container foods from Edwardsville Community School District 7 cafeterias, and deliver them to food pantries like Glen Ed Pantry in Edwardsville.

“It’s easy to be wasteful in our society," said Project 612 volunteer Ann Taylor. “I think because we have so much, then we don’t value it as much. So, I think it’s important to teach value.”

The project is not affiliated with the school district.

Educators tell students to leave what they don't want on the table, then they allow the volunteers in after all of the kids have left.

The name of the group is a biblical reference to a parable in which Jesus told his followers to avoid wasting food.

In The Bible, John 6:12 states: "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."