At around 10:30 am, most younger grades have snack time in class. Out come the plastic baggies that hold the prepackaged chips, or cookies as well as the juice box. A survey showed that one classroom with 18 students generated 15 juice boxes or juice pouches per snack, as well as between 20 – 30 different single use packaging items. A total weight of 4 lbs per class. 4 lbs may not sound like much, but this pictures shows the amount of garbage coming out of 3 kindergarten classes. Every day.
So, Anna Giordano set out to create the Waste Free Snack program and together with Lovetta James rolled it out in January of 2014.
The program consists of one week of targeted education to the children. As parents are the ones packing the snack, they also have to be a part of the solution and a letter was sent home to parents asking for their help to get this trashy problem under control.
The principal Melissa Passarelli walked to all the classes and talked to the students about eating more healthy and she asked them what they thought was healthier….chips or a banana. The result was astounding, the very next day, we had 60% of the class bringing in bananas for snack.
We weighed snack waste every day, teachers tallied the daily amounts and incorporated the lessons into Math, English, Social Studies and Science. Remarkably, within a day we already saw drastic reductions of close to 50% in single use packaging and it went steadily down from there on.
After 10 days of daily weigh ins and education the program culminated in the award ceremony, where each child “won” a reusable water bottle and a reusable snack bag imprinted with the schools name. The students were very proud.
The students also pledged to go Waste Free and wrote their name on a leaf to paste it onto the beautiful tree, created by the amazing art teacher.
From that day on, we had a close to 100% return rate of the reusable lunch bag and we started sending any uneaten food, and any packaging back home with the students. Now, all the lower grades are completely waste free at snack time, and that knowledge has spilled over into the lunchroom as well.
“The first day we sent the uneaten food back home, we were holding our head down, awaiting the storm of phone calls from parents, but amazingly, there was not a single one”, remembers Greg Middleton, Assistant Principal.
The students at Daniel Webster Elementary School have learned a valuable life lesson. Waste-free starts with me!