SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Students at an elementary school in Madison, WI, are turning their lunch time food scraps into compost. Leaders say they have already diverted 550 pounds of food waste from the landfill. The food waste reduction program is helping students and staff at Madison Metropolitan School District cut food waste and increase sustainability. Sustain Dane, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainability and wellbeing in Dane County, Wisconsin, used a $20,000 grant from Virent, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum, to launch the innovative program, and they are already seeing progress.
“MMSD is moving forward with many projects to lessen environmental impact and educate and inspire staff and students through responsible practices,” said Josh Perkins, Director of Food and Nutrition at Madison Metropolitan School District. “This work, supporting mealtime composting and recycling in schools, will play an important part, and we are excited to see it unfold and expand in the district.”
The program empowers students, staff and families to be active stewards of the environment through education and engagement. Beginning during the 2021-2022 school year, Sustain Dane worked with five elementary schools to explore sustainability solutions in the classroom and cafeteria. Sustain Dane used the funding from Virent to start recycling milk cartons and conduct food waste audits, which includes teaching students how to sort food into buckets that separate liquid, cartons and food waste from trash and then weighing the buckets. Since the project started, Sustain Dane’s waste audits and education on recycling and food waste reduction have reached more than 2,600 students from five schools in the district.
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