Green is not just the Pantone color of the year for 2017. As we gear up for the New Year, we’d like to help you think of new ideas to get your school nutrition staff and students involved in programs that are not only beneficial to your school, but also the community and the environment. There are many cost-effective strategies you can implement in your school to minimize food waste and implement “greener” practices throughout the year.
It’s estimated that 40% of food produced in this country doesn’t get consumed (Treehugger). To help minimize food waste in your school you can make small changes, which include:
- Keep your staff educated on food safety so food is not lost due to improper storage, production or receiving practices. The John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) offers a Workshop to Go to help create a culture of food safety at your school.
- Keep production records to identify what leads to food waste.
- Ensure team is monitoring expiration dates so you can prioritize food to serve in your school.
- Letting students serve themselves and select the portions they will actually eat.
- Setting up a table for kids to place items they are not going to consume like their milk cartons.
Recycling Leftover Food
There are many ways to use leftover food to benefit your community and the environment, which can include:
- Compost food waste at your school. Composting reduces landfill waste and generates products that build community and can save your school money. This can be a complement to your schools’ science classes.
- If your school is located near a farm with animals, you can share food scraps for their animal feed. Understand what type of food your local farmer needs and what they can actually use for their animals.
- Fats, oils, and grease can be used to make biodiesel – a renewable fuel source for diesel engines. Contact a local biodiesel club or manufacturer to see if they will accept donations.
Grow Your Own Food
A school garden is a first-hand learning experience for students, a green addition to your community and a simple way to generate produce for your school. Working in the garden gets students outside and moving. To get started:
- Determine the site of your school garden. Use a Soil Testing Laboratory to collect soil samples to determine its quality.
- Involve students in the planning, creation and upkeep of the school garden so it becomes a labor of love from both staff and the student body.
- JSI also offers a “Back to Basics: Fruits & Vegetables” Workshop to Go which shares healthy new ways to use fruit and vegetables to give your meals a flavor boost.
Access great tips on how to minimize school food waste and learn more about the U.S. Food Waste Challenge here.
For more “Go Green for Schools” online resources, please visit the JSI Resource Center. If you come across other programs, initiatives or resources that would be helpful for Massachusetts schools, feel free to share this content with us at email@example.com.