Schools Reduce Food Waste in Creative Ways

Schools are employing a variety of strategies to reduce the amount of food thrown away in the cafeteria, including implementing share tables, donating to local organizations or composting leftovers.

Share table in the Austin Independent School District (TX).

According to “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2018,” from the School Nutrition Association, nearly two thirds of districts surveyed encourage their students to share unwanted/unopened food items with their peers through cafeteria share tables.

Austin Independent School District (TX) designates areas where students can place their uneaten whole fruit or unopened yogurts and milk. This practice cuts down food waste, allows students to share the food they would otherwise throw away, and gives hungry students access to these items at no extra cost.

Another growing trend in schools is collecting uneaten food for donations to charitable organizations, like in Oceanside Unified (CA). The district often works with Brother Benno’s Center, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that has been committed to serving the poor and homeless in North County San Diego since 1983. The initiative cuts down on food waste and teaches students about sharing with those in need, which also helps to build a sense of community.

Littleton Public Schools (CO) was inspired by this year’s National Nutrition Month’s “Go Further With Food!” theme. The district performed plate waste studies at some of their elementary schools to determine which foods the students consumed most and how to create better practices to help decrease food waste across the district.

These buckets helped Littleton Public Schools (CO) learn what fruits and vegetables were being thrown away at each school, offering better insight into food preferences and menu building to reduce waste.

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