Composting and Recycling in the School Cafeterias
In 2018 the North Andover Public School district was awarded a highly competitive grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) to reduce waste. This funding has enabled our students at North Andover Middle School (NAMS), Thomson, Atkinson, and Kittredge to begin a lunchroom sorting process to decrease their waste that will act as a guide for their future and the future of the Planet. Though the program was put on hold due to the pandemic last year, we are hoping to continue successfully this upcoming year, with all 8 schools participating by the end of the 2022 school year.
This process includes:
- pouring off liquids to reduce weight in the trash
- recycling container (if applicable)
- disposing of uneaten food waste and other compostable items in a designated bin which will be taken offsite to a nearby farm where it will decompose and become nutrient-rich compost
- put any remaining unopened food in a container for Food Rescue to bring to a local shelter
- throw what remains into the trash.
These programs wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of our custodial and lunch room staff... thank you!
On average at these four schools listed above, students and kitchen staff are saving approximately 225lbs of food waste per day from going into the trash—this is a significant amount of waste that would otherwise go into a landfill or over to the incinerator on Holt Road, but instead is going to a farm in Lowell and being gradually turned into compost. One school reported going from around 10 bags of trash per day, down to just 2!
Along with the help from the staff, students are hands on learning about how this project impacts our school, community and world. Students are developing green teams which will include students who have a special interest in these topics to develop their leadership skills. This process is raising students’ environmental awareness, reducing the waste they produce, and teaching our kids the importance of doing their part to help our planet and our local environment. The goal of this project is to significantly reduce the amount of waste generated each day, and so far, to date we have diverted approximately 32,000 lbs (16 tons) of food waste and liquid!
Like all grant-funded projects, we could use community support! If you are interested in being a part of this, donating supplies or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Joanna O’Connell at email@example.com. THANK YOU!