Tag Archives: schoollunch

New Rochelle’s Jefferson Elementary School down to 1.2% Garbage

3 lbs of trash, all the rest goes into compost or recyclingThis is what 254 lbs of lunchroom waste look like, and — believe it or not—- only 3 lbs of it, was actually trash. Everything else is being fed into food waste composting and recycling.  72 lbs went as left over liquid down the drain, and the students sorted 15.5 lbs of untouched food out to donate to the local soup kitchen.

That is a whopping 98.8% reduction.  Seriously …. way to go.

Jefferson Elementary School under the leadership of Kim Nieves and LeAnn Bruno has always been on New Rochelle’s forefront to bring sustainability to their students.

Already in 2011, when the We Future Cycle Recycling program was in its infancy and New Rochelle was still serving its students on Styrofoam trays, Ms Nieves and Ms Bruno knew that making the students partners and teaching them to care and sort is a life long skill.

Fortunately, after a 5 year battle, Styrofoam is permanently off the menu in New Rochelle and We Future Cycle gives full credit for this to Jeff White, Assistant Superintendent of Business. Mr White, being new to the district, saw immediately the incredible social, educational and environmental value that the program offers to the children and understood that serving our young ones on a material that contains Styrene, a chemical that has recently been classified as “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” was inappropriate, no matter how much less expensive it might be.

Jefferson adjusted its program to follow We Future Cycle’s guidelines, so all New Rochelle schools are set up exactly the same.  We Future Cycle is enjoying working with Jefferson’s enthusiastic recyclers. There is nothing as rewarding as having a kindergarten student hug your leg and say thank you for teaching her to recycle.

 

 

 

The German International School of NY launching on-site food composting with We Future Cycle

fdc93e79-289d-458e-936e-c3c74b34d25cThe lunchroom in the German School in White Plains resembles more an upscale restaurant then a school lunchroom. You will find a decorative salad bar, a drink dispenser, a milk dispenser with your choice of 1% milk or 1% chocolate milk, a juice and sparkling water dispenser, the dessert counter with the fresh fruit of the day in a sun light filled high ceiling room, with light wood round tables. The food is all prepared on site, with the daily soup, vegetarian choices and meat dish.

b39b7799-e043-4e2e-b656-1efb956b6ecaChef Paul Boos, Food Service Director with Compass USA, personally serves the students and the school is proudly looking upon a 100% participation rate among students.

b8649d72-a671-4444-9da9-d94f088dd8b6The school uses only reusable dish and flatware and students are returning their trays to a counter that leads to the dishroom.

Now, GISNY, under the leadership of Edward Schlieben, administrator and a very active Green Team is launching into food composting on site. The handsome garden is visible right from the lunchroom and it is the logical next step in their journey to zero waste.

Come January 2016, students will be scraping their food waste into the compost bucket instead of garbage and the student green team will manage the compost bins. We Future Cycle is proud to be helping the GISNY on their path to truly zero waste.

 

White Plains School District Food Service, an Active Participant to Reduce Waste

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Church St Food Service workers preparing trays to keep  packaging at minimum

The success of source separating lunchrooms and teaching students about sustainable practices depends immensely on partnership with food service. The equation is easy, what goes in, must come back out. If food service sends many single serve packaging into the lunchroom, it makes sorting very difficult, potentially contaminating the food waste with plastic and ending up in the trash (or on the floor).

Have you ever tried peeling a sticky opened ketchup pouch off a tray? Not a pretty picture.

Ed Marra, Director of Food Service for the White Plains City School District, is a fabulous team player who took the We Future Cycle recycling program as chance to educate all his staff in sustainable practices. While only two of White Plains schools are piloting the program right now,  Mr Marra knew that all school employees can benefit from this kind of education.

He invited Anna Giordano to the Superintendents Training Day at White Plains High School to educate the staff not only about how the program works and what the children are learning, but going the extra mile to outline the environmental and social foot print each material has.

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only 1/4 bin of trash per day

Cafeteria Manager Sadie Tatum shared that she had no idea that Aluminum foil comes from strip mining the rain forest and she has immediately stopped using aluminum foil in her cafeteria and her home.  Ms Tatum and her team excitedly set up their kitchen to follow the same sorting guidelines and all are stunned to see that at the end of a day, they had less then a quarter office size bin as trash. All food, packaging and soft plastic was sorted out to be composted and recycled, and the only trash was gloves and dirty soft plastics.

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“It is not hard, no big deal at all to sort”, Ms Tatum said when asked on how the system affected her normal day.

Mr. Marra actively supports the program by eliminating most single serve packaging, replacing them with squeeze bottles and dispensers. He also affected the change that bagel condiments were made “by choice” items and not just placed on the tray of the children, whether they wanted the creme cheese or not.

These kinds of  adjustments are often met with resistance. Arguments against replacing single serve ketchup pouches are that it is too much work to refill the squeeze bottles, or the students would take too much. However in White Plains, thanks to Mr Marra’s decisive leadership and the training,  the transition was flawless and it allowed Church St Elementary School to become a new Zero Waste Facility with less then 1.7% of trash, or only 3 lbs (!!!) of trash coming out of a lunchroom with 800 students.

 

White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School reduces garbage by 95%

White Plains Ridgeway Elementary school was chosen as one of the pilots to implement the We Future Cycle School lunch recycling program.

With enthusiastic support from Assistant Principal James Graziano  Ridgeway students learned  in assemblies that packaging is not trash but material for new things, they learned where the garbage goes when it is not sorted or recyclable, and they all agreed that they did not want to live next to a dump nor an incinerator. For good measures, they also agreed that animals probably won’t like living next to one either.

The custodial staff, under leadership of Pedro Molina, was super supportive, helping to set up the recycling station, going way out of their way to make the school a success. On Halloween a full bodied Batman was helping students at the recycling station. How fabulous is that!

Ridgeway had 124 lbs of waste of which only 6 lbs were actual trash, all other was either liquid, food waste, milk cartons or commingled recycling. A whopping 95% reduction. Now, that is truly something to write home about.

Ridgunnamed (5)eway’s parents came to “do lunch” with their children, helping to train the students in the new sorting system.  It takes active supervision and guidance to teach 700 students to sort and these parents were up to the task, fully supporting the efforts of the school to create a generation of kids that care.

Hastings: Astonishing First Year Results from We Future Cycle Program

IMG_0258Can you imagine 110 times the amount of garbage as in this picture? Well, this is what Hastings-on-Hudson school district has not generated in the past year thanks the robust We Future Cycle recycling program it adopted last year. About 22 tons.

Thanks to the endless energy and support of Maureen Carabello, Treasurer, as well as the two head custodians in the elementary school and the middle/high school Hastings can look proudly upon major accomplishments.

Both buildings reduced their garbage so significantly that they reduced the number of dumpster by 50% and were able to renegotiate a $2000.00 reduction in their pick up cost.

Custodial staff was also able to reduce their plastic bag usage and purchases by 50% which is an expense often overlooked.

Truly an astonishing first year results. Hats off to Hastings-on-Hudson.

Research: Longer Lunch Periods Mean Healthier Eating and Less Waste

According to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, students with 20 minutes or fewer to eat at lunchtime rarely finish their meal and make unhealthier food choices.

While most elementary school children have about 30 minute lunch periods in the U.S., some spend much of their lunch period standing in line waiting to get their lunch.  We often see students come to the source separation station to recycle and compost leftovers with only a few bites of their lunch consumed.  When we ask why they didn’t eat more sometimes they say they didn’t like the food; however just as frequently they will say “I didn’t have time to eat everything.”

[Read the full article here]

This response confuses school administrators, as it would seem that 30 minutes is sufficient for a child to each lunch.  However, we have observed that students spend a lot of their lunch period talking, as it is often the first opportunity during the school day that they can relax and talk with their friends.  Socializing often takes priority to eating!

The research – and We Future Cycle – offer recommendations about how to reduce lunchroom waste and to encourage healthier eating.  Designing lunchrooms and lunch schedules to reduce wait times on lunch lines, and to offer as extensive lunch periods as possible, are constructive ideas.  While recycling and composting is great, the best way to reduce waste is to not create it!

Senator Latimer supports We Future Cycle Program implementation throughout NY

We Future Cycle is honored to have its lunchroom recycling program endorsed by Senator George Latimer. He took time from his busy schedule to visit a We Future Cycle Recycling implementation at BMP Ridge Street School in Rye Brook, NY, and he has also met with our team to discuss grant opportunities.

Thank you Senator Latimer for your public support.

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Cash For Columbus School Writing Competition Winners

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Columbus Elementary School was the proud winner for the coveted Nina Chin Writing Contest Grant. Mrs. Nunez, Principal, gave 3rd, 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to participate by writing an essay to the Topic “I can make a difference”. 145 students rose to the challenge, an outstanding level of participation, thanks to two teachers Ms Costa and Ms Alexander-Zahn, who went from class to class to promote the contest.

On June 15th at 10:00, the auditorium was filled with excited students. Who snagged the top prizes per grade?

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The ceremony began with a presentation by 11 students sharing information about Columbus’ recycling program. Students shared that they learned that they can make a big difference by sorting their waste into different categories, they were proud to have weighed the materials and realized that instead of making 400 lbs or garbage, they only made 8 lbs and all the rest is now raw material for new things.

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A second grader said that she is now the recycling specialist in her house and is teaching her mom about it. A kindergarten student  loudly proclaimed that we only have one Earth and she will make sure that all her friends are taking care of it with her.

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A sideways glance to the dignitaries Derrik and Jean Chin, Irene Schindler and Rev. Jennie Talley showed that they were very moved, clutching tissues.

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Sonia Nunez, Principal

The second part of the celebration was Mrs. Nunez calling one by one the runner ups and winners per grade up to the front to receive their certificate and their envelope with the cash prize. While the kids came up, some excerpts of their essay was shared.

Some truly powerful statements came from these young minds.

Mia Torres shared in her essay that she wants to help the environment because when she looks outside, she sees plastic bags in the trees. She doesn’t like that because the trees help us breathe.

Jasmin Alvarez very wisely said “Live like every day is Earthday!”

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Mia Torres, 3rd grade

And Willy Hidalgo says; ” to make Earth green we have to care for it. We also have to clean up liter and garbage, even if it is not yours!”

Willy, you are SO right! Well said.

Michelle Oliveros thought long term, an outstanding achievement for a 5th grader. She said; ” We have to keep the Earth clean for our future families. We also have to let our families know about recycling and reusing. It is all about our Earth.”

New Rochelle Columbus Students are making a huge difference

Introducing Sustainability Education and Source Separation to a school is a massive undertaking because of the sheer number of  stakeholders. Think about it, changing behavior from “throwing it all away” to “responsibly sorting” in a building that has 1,100 people zooming through it at all times is huge!

Well, New Rochelle’s Columbus Elementary School is showing how it is done.

Ms. Nunez, Principal, and Ms. Owens, Assistant Principal, know that it takes everybody to be on the same page to be successful – not just within the building, but also from Food Service, Facilities, Central Administration and of course the parents.  A brilliant move to create consensus and ownership of the program at every level.

We Future Cycle then presented to each stakeholder group, such as the custodial staff, teachers, parents, monitors, and every single student in small groups. Sharing the visual of the amount of garbage that is being generated every day, and then adding it up to just one week was greeted with audible sounds of shock and disbelief.

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23 bags of trash every day is a pretty powerful argument, and that is just from lunch. It does not even include the 20 bags coming out of night clean.

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We Future Cycle involved the students to help with a Waste Audit. The students counted every single packaging material that is brought into the cafeteria and the raw data is now with the 5th grade Kaleidoscope students to work with.  Learning how hard data collection can be was a lesson in itself.

Read here how Columbus students reduced their lunchroom waste by 98%.

Setting up a building to allow for proper flow of materials relies heavily on clear and consistent signage as well as proper placement of the correct bins. Head Custodian George directed his team to set up each bin as per our suggestion with the signage provided by us, and the success was instantaneous. Kindergarten students carefully rinsed out their snack containers to place them into the commingled bin, proudly informing the teacher. “See, I am recycling, Mr Mastro.’ Every day, eager hands are up to get the job to bring the class room bins into the central hall way stations.IMG_0321

Columbus is only a few days into the process, but has already successfully reduced lunchroom waste by 98%, from just under 400 lbs per lunch to only 8 lbs, and the building output has also drastically been reduced by diverting the paper and commingled into recycling.

Columbus students are super excited because a film crew is covering the transformation of the school and the documentary is going to be shown on the big screen.  I can share already with you that Columbus is full of raw talent. So, watch out for the showing of “Columbus Students are Making a Real Difference” coming soon to the picture house near you.

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FiOS1 News Story on We Future Cycle Program in Hastings

We Future Cycle is proud to be featured on FiOS 1 News by reporter Christina Chiarelli, who was on site at Hastings’ Hillside Elementary School.  Ms. Chiarelli spoke with the school’s head custodian, George Giannone, aide Kim Osborne, and many students about how the program has dramatically reduced lunchroom waste.

As well, interviews with the students’ demonstrated how much they have learned about recycling from participating in the program!  Hands-on recycling and composting give kids a tangible understanding of how their actions have an impact on the environment.

Watch the broadcast by clicking here or on the image below:

Fios newscaster