Tag Archives: westchestercounty

We Future Cycle Is Growing, Servicing Soon More Than 40 Schools

With great pride We Future Cycle is sharing how it is growing. 10 team members are now supporting schools throughout southern Westchester. (3 could unfortunately not join us for this picture)

And what a journey this has been. From the humble beginnings of a single lunchroom to now soon over 40 schools, covering New Rochelle, White Plains, Rye, Blind Brook and soon also Mount Vernon schools. We have also worked in Eastchester, Ossining, Pelham, Tuckahoe and Mamaroneck.

In numbers, that is nearly 33,000 students that are sorting their waste every day. 33,000 students that have learned that there is no away on this earth. 33,000 students who now know about composting and recycling.

It also means that 33,000 Styrofoam trays have been eliminated from the waste stream every single day. Every one of these districts was using foam trays before We Future Cycle advocated for the clean switch to compostable materials. Styrofoam trays contain Styrene, now a classified human carcinogen, are proven to leach chemicals into the food that touches them. We are proud to have been instrumental in eliminating Styrofoam from the menu of 33,000 students.

33,000 students’ food waste is not going any longer to the incinerator to be burnt into our air, instead, it is being composted, creating nutrient rich soil, often sold as potting soil at hardware stores throughout New York State.

And these 33,000 students have families and communities they have changed by bringing the knowledge home and creating change.

We are excited to be saving the world one district at the time and creating a generation of students that care.

Come and join us if you feel strongly about teaching children to become environmentally literate.

 

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Pre-Portioning in School Cafeterias….. The Cost Of For-Profit Convenience To Tax Payers

Public schools are facing huge challenges when it comes to feeding their students. Budget constrains and the logistical nightmare of getting  hundreds of students served in very short lunch periods make schools move toward For-Profit Food Service Companies to handle the cafeterias. Public schools have the option to participate in the Federal Lunch Program, which comes with nutritional and portion requirements but also with a nice reimbursement check in addition to what students pay for the meal.

Tax dollars are reimbursing the  Food Service Company for each meal, partially or entirely,  currently at $3.25 per lunch, and $1.75 per breakfast. Any purchase price paid by the student, also goes to the food service provider. So, food service company bid on the school food contracts with an eye on who has a student population that will have the least free or reduced lunches and might even spend money on snacks. Food service companies are actually paying the school district for the privilege of feeding their students. Capitalism injected into public education.

The National School Lunch Program championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama created a set of nutritional guidelines to ensure that food service companies are actually providing quality food for the tax dollars they receive. Minimum amounts per food group were established to make sure, students were not given only starchy (cheap) components. Guidelines on minimum protein and fruit portions as part of the menu assure that chicken nuggets actually contain meat and that fruit is not always the canned variety.  All in an effort to feed children as balanced as possible, with wholesome ingredients.

Feeding hundreds of children in a short time is very challenging and complying with all Federal Lunch Program Nutritional Guidelines is only adding to that challenge. And all of that, while trying to make a buck.

Thus Food service providers are turning more and more toward pre-packaging of components to allow for a fast grab and go, while controlling portion sizes closely. Minimum requirements and not an ounce more.

We Future Cycle deals with the management of the fall out of this pre-packaging craze. The cost of packaging alone, without the food cost is staggering and it does not even take the garbage disposal cost into consideration. That cost gets entirely dumped onto the school district.

We Future Cycle studied the flow of food service, the time spent to pre-cup and is helping schools to cut down on pre-packaging with only very slight adjustments to their system. It has cut down the labor and material costs tremendously, and made it much easier to sort the materials in the lunchroom.

Keep in mind, every penny spent on packaging is a penny less spent on quality food for our children.

This picture shows a completely pre-packaged lunch, two slices of plastic wrapped bread one 4 oz cup with lid containing 3 leaves of lettuce, 3 single serve pouches of dressing and ketchup, and a molded 3 compartment hot tray, with plastic covering that contained 4 oz of meat, and 2 oz of cooked vegetable. This was served on a Styrofoam tray with a pre-packaged fork, napkin, straw combo and an 8 oz carton of milk. The packaging waste is staggering.

There are better ways to spend tax dollars and feed out children.

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Open House in White Plains Elementary School Proves that Students Change Communities

Last night, We Future Cycle hosted an informational table at the White Plains Mamaroneck Avenue School at the Back -To- School Open House. Talking to parents showed that even the K students with only about 10 days of lunchroom sorting under their (tiny) belts brought the information about recycling home and some even effected change already. It was heart warming to hear parents say how excited their kids were about being part to save the world. One mother shared with me that her son told her on day two that she needed to get another bin to sort out recyclables (which she did)

One father shared with me that the favorite word of his brand new kindergarten student is commingled and he sits at dinner and identifies the different materials he sees.

To give some background, White Plains School district hired We Future Cycle in 2015 to implement the recycling program in its elementary schools, moving into the middle schools by 2016 and now starting the HS school. Administration at MAS has been outstanding supporters of this program and this percolates through the building. Students are lining up to help at the recycling stations, students are signing up to help sweep and wipe tables, every single classroom has a recycling stations and while walking the building it was heartwarming to see that every single bin was perfectly sorted.

This proves that environmental education in schools can change communities. It teaches responsibility and personal commitment. All life long lessons. Hats off to MAS students for being the change we want to see in this world.

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We Future Cycle White Plains and New Rochelle Schools To Receive Westchester County Earth Day Award

We Future Cycle is exceedingly proud that the White Plains and New Rochelle Schools are honored at the upcoming Westchester County Earth Day for their participation in the We Future Cycle Recycling Program that diverts 95% of their waste into recycling and composting streams.

Ridgeway Elementary School Principal Tashia Brown will be receiving the award in the name of the White Plains School District and New Rochelle Jefferson Assistant Principal LeAnn Bruno will be receiving it for the New Rochelle School District.

Both are well deserved, both are champion supporters of the We Future Cycle Sustainability Programs and have gone out of their way to personally support the efforts of their students.

Congratulations!

Town of Greenburgh Eyeing To Operate Westchesters First Food Composting Site

Paul Feiner, long time Supervisor for the town of Greenburgh is an ardent supporter of green and sustainable practices. We Future Cycle is partnering with the Town of Greenburgh to operate the first food composting site in Westchester.

Currently the County of Westchester is spending close to a million dollars per week to burn its 2500 daily tons of garbage into the environment at the Peekskill incinerator. A look at the garbage composition reveals that nearly 50% of that is organic matter such as food waste.

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33% are paper products that could be recycled and another 16% are plastics, glass, metals and cartons that could also be recycled and generate income for the County, rather than being burnt into our air at great expense. Only 4% of our daily garbage is actual trash.

The weak link so far is what to do with the organic waste. Yard waste is already collected and most Westchester communities truck it out to a commercial yard waste composting facility in Rockland or Putnam County. At great expense I might add. Greenburgh alone spends  $ 1.25 million disposal fees just for leaf season. And that does not account for the actual trucking expenses, only the disposal cost.

So,what to do with the food waste?

We Future Cycle has brought their ground breaking recycling program now to many schools in the county, redirecting 95 to 97% of the lunchroom materials into recycling or composting streams and away from trash.

 

So far, the food waste is going to the Ulster County Composting Facility, quite a trek up I-87. They mix 3 parts leaves / wood chips with one part food waste and -voila- 3 months later, they have a salable product called potting soil that sells for $6 per cubic foot at Home Depot.

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final product ready to be bagged

And why bring a valuable ingredient for healthy soil to be used somewhere else?

So, the Town of Greenburgh is stepping up to the plate to bring the first food composting site to Westchester County, keeping valuable resources within the county, reducing trucking and disposal expenses, lowering costs so that more schools can participate in the program and generating black gold. A total win-win situation.

We Future Cycle is proud to be part of this.

New Rochelle Students Fighting For Less Packaging in Cafeteria

Meet Ben and Nate. These engaged 6th graders made an appointment with the New Rochelle Albert Leonard Middle School  Principal John Barnes to discuss the need for additional changes in the lunchroom. Both students fully support the We Future Cycle recycling program but want to see it go even further.

Armed with plastic wrapped apples, plastic wrapped cookies, Styrofoam FroYo cups and single serve ketchup pouches they made their case. Reading from their research notes they presented Mr Barnes with facts about plastic in the environment as well as the now documented health risks associated with consuming food that touched the polystyrene.

Mr Barnes invited the Executive Director Anna Giordano to the meeting to give the students the opportunity to hear what is already in the works in regards to these materials. Ms Giordano was delighted to meet these engaged students and shared that exactly these materials are on her list to be replaced with more environmental solutions.

Nate and Ben were invited to share their concerns in writing with the administration and they are now working on a letter to formally request the removal and replacement of these packaging items.

Mr Barnes was exceedingly proud of his students and rightly so!.

White Plains GW Elementary School Reduces Garbage by 98 %

Check out that pile of sorted out trays! Today was the big roll out day of the We Future Cycle Recycling Program in the 4th Elementary School of White Plains. The waste audit yesterday revealed that GW with its 650 students generated normally 16 bags of trash, weighing 235 lbs. All students went through class by class presentation by experienced WFC staff that skillfully walked the children through the realization that just because a food packaging is empty, it does not mean it is garbage and thus useless. Students learned that most of their everyday lunchroom packaging is fully recyclable if just sorted out, and they also learned that by sorting out the food waste, we could create compost, a valuable resource.

Looking at pictures of the piles of garbage from their school, generated from lunch and night clean, and then learning that there is no “away” for garbage was eye opening even for the littlest one. When asked if they were ready to save the world by sorting their waste into the right bin, they were READY!

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And they showed it in the lunchroom! Under wonderful guidance of the entire TA staff, and great personal engagement by the head custodian, the students, from K through 5 pulled off a wonderful job and reducing their garbage by a whopping 98% by sorting the materials into Food Waste for composting, Commingled for Recycling, Excess Liquid to go down the drain, and untouched food to be donated. From 291 lbs only 6.5 lbs were actually trash, one small fluffy bag, instead of the 16 heavy dripping and bulging bags from yesterday.

 

That is truly something to write home about. All of GW students can be proud that they are making a real difference every day now.