Over one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten! Food waste is the single most common material landfilled and incinerated in the United States. By reducing food waste, we can increase food security, promote resource and energy conservation, and address climate change. Over the last year, La Center School District has been actively working with the Clark County Green Schools program to reduce food waste and learn more about how La Center students can take environmental action at school.
La Center Schools have proven to be leaders in environmental stewardship for over a decade. La Center High School became the first high school in Washington State to earn the EarthGen Platinum Certification in 2016, a statewide honor recognizing La Center High School's commitment to developing school sustainability policies. In 2022 La Center High School was awarded the United States Department of Education's Green Ribbon Award, in national recognition of their inspiring sustainability efforts.
La Center Elementary, Middle and High Schools participated in comprehensive waste audit surveys, providing students and school staff an opportunity to analyze cafeteria waste. As a result of these waste audits, school staff learned that district wide, 126.2 pounds of food waste is generated each day. The series of La Center waste audit events were student led. Students were given the opportunity to sort waste and learn more about how to prevent waste from ending up in the landfill.
La Center School District has taken a big step to reduce waste sent to the landfill from the cafeteria. In October, La Center Schools launched a district wide food waste sort process. Utilizing sort table waste stations in the cafeteria, finished lunches will be properly sorted into food waste, landfill waste, and recyclables, including milk cartons, cans and bottles. With the data from the La Center School District waste sort studies, we can estimate that as a result of this sorting system, 28,656 pounds of waste will be diverted from the landfill each year. This breaks down to 22,716 pounds of food scraps will be composted, 1,530 lbs of waste will be recycled and 4,410 lbs will be reused. The La Center cafeteria waste sorting system includes the use of a student share table. Students are encouraged to place unwanted food items such as unopened, pre-packaged food and drinks, or whole fruit on the table so other students can eat these items or take them as a snack for later.
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