New Date for Reusable Foodware in School Cafeterias Webinar

In a previous post, I highlighted a webinar organized by Seven Generations Ahead entitled “School cafeterias reimagined: The case for reusable foodware.”

That webinar has been rescheduled for March 16. If you previously registered for the February 16 presentation, you will need to re-register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-date-school-cafeterias-reimagined-the-case-for-reusable-foodware-tickets-142275579087.

reusable school lunch tray with food in each compartment plus reusable glass and fork

Upcoming Webinar: Reusable Foodware in School Cafeterias

Seven Generations Ahead will be hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 entitled “School cafeterias reimagined: The case for reusable foodware.

From the event website:

Want to create a better dining experience, protect student health, & cut costs, all while reducing waste and its impact on our environment?

Join Seven Generations Ahead to learn how your K-12 school district can reap the benefits of transitioning to reusable foodware. School nutrition professionals from two urban districts will share how they’ve prioritized reusables and what motivated this change. You’ll hear about the impacts on staffing, waste levels, and costs as they make the transition to using dishwashers, bulk milk dispensers, and durable trays, dishes, and utensils.

You’ll also learn about the health and environmental impacts associated with toxins commonly found in single-use foodware, as well as the safety of reusables during COVID and ways to minimize disposable packaging for classroom meals and curbside meal distribution.

Speakers:

  • Sue Chiang, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health
  • Diane Grodek, Executive Chef, Austin Independent School District
  • Eliza Pessereau, Minnesota GreenCorps Waste Reduction Member, Minneapolis Public Schools-Culinary & Wellness Services

This webinar is for school nutrition staff, as well as district administrators, procurement, sustainability, facilities, and operations staff. Teachers, parents, and students are also welcome. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A.”

The webinar is scheduled for 3:00 to 4:15 PM, CST, Feb. 16, 2021.

Register online here.

reusable school lunch tray with food in each compartment plus reusable glass and fork

Northwestern University Donates Unclaimed Meals as Students Self-Quarantine

The global COVID-19 pandemic has created disruptions to our food supply chain that resulted in instances of increased food waste, all during a time when many people are struggling with unemployment, medical bills and other unforeseen costs that could exacerbate food insecurity–a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

So case studies of the recovery of unused food being diverted to feed hungry people are even more welcome and inspiring now, though they’re always reason for celebration, of course. One such example involves Northwestern University and the Compass Group, which is the company in charge of food preparation for Northwestern dining halls.

As reported for “Northwestern Now” on January 15, 2021 by Stephen Lewis:

During Northwestern’s Wildcat Wellness period, students were required to self-quarantine in their residence hall rooms. During this time, 2,400 residential students — with a meal plan — were delivered lunch and dinner; that;’ approximately 66,000 delivered meals over two weeks. But unlike ordering take-out from your favorite neighborhood restaurant, hundreds of these boxed, hot meals were left unclaimed and untouched.

“Over five hundred meals were returned, and we knew that if this was going to continue, this would be a really big problem. So, I put a call out to a bunch of non-profits around the city and people came together to start a massive food recovery effort,” said Sarah Levesque, the Sustainability Director for Compass Group, the company in charge of preparing meals for Northwestern dining halls.

Sixty non-profit organizations quickly responded to the urgent call. During the two-week Wildcat Wellness period, twice a day, dozens of volunteers collected the uneaten meals to deliver to those in need. Give-N-Kind, a non-profit started by Northwestern alumnus, Emily Petway (’02) helped coordinate the effort to recover meals that were not distributed…

Nearly 10,000 meals are expected to be donated by the time the Wildcat Wellness period ends on Jan. 17. Once normal meal services resume in dining halls across campus, unused food will still not go to waste. Campus Kitchen, the student-led volunteer organization, is currently on pause while students are self-quarantining. When quarantine is over, the organization will continue to collect excess food to package and deliver to low-income Evanston residents for free.’

Way to go, Wildcats!

Read the full story here.

Learn More

Food Waste and Covid-19: Impacts along the Supply Chain

GiveNKind

Fight2Feed

Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University

Northwestern releases comprehensive integrated solid waste management plan

Northwestern Dining (in particular, see the “Wellness and Sustainability” section of the web site)

 

UW-Green Bay Uses Campus Composter to Divert Food Waste from Landfill

As reported by WBAY.com, an Earth Flow composting system, which has been use on the University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UW-Green Bay) campus since October 2020, has thus far helped the university divert about 15,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill. The student government bought the composter using money from the campus sustainability fund.

Read the full story and watch the video at https://www.wbay.com/2020/11/27/uw-green-bay-new-campus-composter-diverts-thousands-of-pounds-of-food-waste-from-landfills/,

According to the report, food scraps are collected in five-gallon buckets from the campus foodservice operations. Studen workers add the scraps to the composter, along with two buckets of wood chips for each bucket of food scraps. The wood chips are sourced from local tree-trimming operations. When completed the compost is used in various campus gardens, and may ultimately be made available to the public.

Learn more about Earth Flow Composting Systems at https://compostingtechnology.com/in-vessel-composting-systems/earth-flow-custom-vessel/.

View photos of the composting system installation at Inside UW-Green Bay News: https://news.uwgb.edu/featured/go-green/10/06/photos-earth-flow-composter-installed/.

Note that links to products or services are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by the author, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, the Prairie Research Institute, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Iowa Waste Reduction Center Releases School Food Waste Whitepaper

The Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at the University of Northern Iowa recently released a whitepaper characterizing food waste at K-12 schools in rural Iowa. Food Waste in Rural Schools analyzes data collected by the IWRC over the last five years of providing direct technical assistance to K-12 schools across the state related to food waste prevention and reduction.

IWRC estimates K-12 students in Iowa tossed over 150,000 pounds of food and beverage waste every school day during breakfast and lunch in the 2018-2019 school year. Moreover, Iowa’s K-12 students tossed nearly 30 million pounds of food and beverage waste in 2018-2019 (based on 180 day school year) with the majority of this ending up in the landfill.

The whitepaper details methodology, student impact, outcomes of assistance, and food and beverage waste data collected over the last five years. With the current situation created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, this whitepaper can be used as a guide for K-12 schools to calculate food and beverage waste rather than conducting actual waste sorts; which would be nearly impossible to conduct with social distancing and public health protocols.

You may download the whitepaper at https://iwrc.uni.edu/sites/default/files/IWRC_FWwhitepaper_WEBVERSION%20(1).pdf.

Cover of IWRC whitepaper, "Food Waste in Rural Schools"

California School District Switches to Biodiesel Made from Waste for School Buses

The October 12, 2020 edition of Waste 360 featured a story on a new initiative of the Twin Rivers Unified School District in  California. From the press release:

“MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif., – The Twin Rivers Unified School District near Sacramento achieved a major milestone in its climate action plan by switching 75 diesel-powered school buses to run on renewable diesel fuel provided by Neste. As a result, the district’s fleet is now fully fossil free and one of the cleanest in the country. Because Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a drop-in fuel, Twin Rivers was able to achieve this remarkable milestone practically overnight.”

According to the article, Twin Rivers USD is the 28th largest school district in California, and started to use electric school buses last year. Now, by switching their remaining diesel-powered buses to renewable diesel, they will achieve an 80% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from those buses. The renewable diesel being used is produced by Neste MY Renewable Diesel, and doesn’t cost any more than the regular diesel previously used. It’s also expected that the biodiesel will improve performance and reduce maintenance costs. As described in the press release,

“Neste’s renewable diesel fuel is made from renewable and sustainably sourced waste materials – such as used cooking oil, rendered fats and grease. These wastes come from hotels, restaurants, sports stadiums and many other venues with industrial kitchens. By collecting and converting these wastes into renewable products, Neste is creating a closed loop system that can help accelerate society’s transition away from fossil fuels.”

The Waste 360 article can be accessed at https://www.waste360.com/fuel/california-school-district-switches-renewable-diesel-powered-buses. Visit the Neste and NesteMY web sites to learn more about the company and the fuel it produces. Food manufacturers and processors interested in supplying used oils for fuel production can explore the concept at https://www.neste.us/neste-in-north-america/suppliers/sell-renewable-raw-materials

Note: Links and companies listed are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as endorsements by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, the Prairie Research Institute, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tdorante10 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Seven Generations Ahead Webinar on School Waste Reduction, Sept. 2

As students head back to school in one way or another, it’s time to consider how to reduce waste related to school activities. Tomorrow, September 2 at 4 PM CT, Seven Generations Ahead, a non-profit organization based in Oak Park, IL, will host a free webinar on waste reduction for schools during COVID-19.

To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/zero-waste-school-practices-during-covid-19-registration-116924074053.

From the registration site:

“Back-to-school is going to be different this year, and reopening plans continue to evolve. Zero waste efforts will need to pivot to meet the challenges we are facing.

Join Susan Casey and Becky Brodsky from SGA’s Zero Waste Schools program and school leaders from around the country to exchange ideas and learn ways to creatively adapt zero waste practices to our new circumstances.

Contributing to the conversation:

  • Nancy Deming, K-12 Sustainability Specialist, Custodial and Nutrition Services, Oakland Unified School District
  • Dan Schnitzer, Director of Sustainability and Capital Projects, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
  • Kate Mason-Schultz, Coordinator of Nutrition Services, Evanston/Skokie School District 65

The conversation will center around reducing waste from the classroom and food service by adapting prevention, recycling, composting, and food recovery strategies. We’ll also share ways students and families can learn how to reduce waste at home, including composting and single-use plastics reduction.”

recycling bin with milk cartons inside, screen shot from webinar registration page

NRDC Launches Two Regional “Food Matters” Cohorts

In a previous post, we highlighted a toolkit from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Food Matters program, consisting of resources to assist municipalities as they tackle various food waste issues. Shortly after the release of this toolkit, NRDC also announced the creation of two Food Matters Regional Initiatives, consisting of cohorts of cities. The Mid-Atlantic cohort includes Baltimore, MD (hub); Jersey City, NJ; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; and Washington, D.C. The Southeast cohort includes Nashville, TN (hub); Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Memphis TN, and Orlando, FL.

From the NRDC blog: ‘Starting with the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, we are launching a Food Matters Regional Initiative, with the goal of furthering larger-scale change related to food waste at a regional level. From a pool of regional applicant cities, we selected five cities to participate in each regional initiative, including previous partner cities as “hub cities” in each region…Our cohorts will include city representatives who will network with one another, with NRDC, and with local partner organizations to set goals, develop workplans, and identify regional strategies that help maximize their resources. NRDC will work with each city to estimate their baseline food waste generation and rescue potential and to provide technical assistance on developing food waste strategies that help bolster their broader food systems, sustainability, and climate goals.’

To learn more about the regional initiatives and work done in specific cities (including those not included in regional initiatives), visit the Food Matters web site and click on “Where We Work.”

NRDC Releases “Food Matters” Resources to Guide Municipal Food Waste Efforts

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has announced the availability of a compendium of resources from its “Food Matters” project. The resources are meant to assist municipalities as they tackle various food waste issues. Read the full press release on the NRDC web site at https://www.nrdc.org/media/2020/200616:

“The Food Matters Program and Policy Toolkit is designed for city policymakers and agency staff nationwide who are seeking to advance a program or implement policies to prevent food from becoming waste, increase donation of surplus food, and recycle food scraps. Alongside the toolkit is a curated set of guides to tackle food waste at the local level which have proven successful in NRDC’s work with Food Matters cities. The toolkit and templates are designed to meet cities at different stages of their food waste journey, providing users with practical resources to take both incremental steps towards city-wide change as well as bold accelerated strategies.”

Case studies from cities such as Baltimore, Denver, Nashville, and New York are included in the resource compendium.

View the full compendium at https://www.nrdc.org/food-matters.

screenshot of food matters pages on NRDC web site

Food Waste Curriculum from IL EPA, UI MSTE, Now Available Online

A previous guest post by Amanda Price described her experiences teaching a new food waste curriculum for fifth and sixth-graders developed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE). The curriculum is now available online. Visit https://pathways.mste.illinois.edu/curriculum/food-waste to access the unit, an associated teacher guide, the material and supply list, student activity sheets, and other related resources.

Screenshot from the food waste unit on the Environmental Pathways web site.