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Food Waste Reduction Efforts Grow Across Bend-La Pine

Schools throughout the district work to decrease food waste and educate the community

Article Date: Apr 22, 2024

Green Team student groups at Bend-La Pine Schools are working to reduce food waste throughout the district and the efforts are showing success. Student leaders, with the help of the sustainability department, have implemented waste audits, started and maintained composting programs, and promoted the Love Food, Not Waste program. They also are working to educate peers and the community about choices that can reduce food waste.

Reducing food waste helps mitigate climate change and conserves resources. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 100,000 institutions serve lunches to 30.4 million students each school day, leading to significant quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and meats being tossed in the cafeteria trash.

Bend-La Pine Schools serves about 11,700 meals for breakfast and lunch every day. Working with students, an emphasis is placed on only taking food they will eat and composting what they do not. The district sends over 5,000 pounds of food waste to Knott Landfill for commercial composting weekly. This effort prevents the production of an estimated 185,900 pounds of carbon dioxide from rotting food in the landfill weekly.

Bend La-Pine Schools also has released a new food waste education video in the lead-up to Earth Day on Monday, April 22. In partnership with Deschutes County, the school district sustainability department and students produced this video to teach middle and high school students how to reduce waste in school cafeterias and build on composting programs.

“We are hopeful that students can be inspired by their peers to make good choices in school cafeterias and work harder to reduce the waste first and compost what they are unable to,” said Jackie Wilson, sustainability coordinator for Bend-La Pine Schools. “The video is an important tool for our upper-level students and families.”

Food scraps are collected and composted at 10 schools throughout the district. Realms Middle and High School recently joined the composting program, and the district anticipates two more schools to join the efforts before the end of the school year.

Watch the Food Waste Reduction video here.