Boulder Valley School District

Avoiding the waste in BVSD cafeterias

Randy Barber

BVSD has an ambitious sustainability plan, outlining a "green" mission and long-term goals including zero waste goals and sustainable purchasing practices. In order to align with this vision, Food Services has made significant improvements to its daily operations. We have moved to reusable trays, cups and silverware in all school cafeterias; purchasing organic milk in bulk containers; introducing reusable plastic containers (RPCs) for the delivery of local produce, chicken and beef products; and supporting comprehensive recycling and composting programs in all school cafeterias. We work with our farmer partners to recycle beef cooking oil for biofuel for local farm tractors and, when possible, compost vegetable scraps to feed locally farmed pigs. Our food truck, the Munchie Machine, is a zero waste operation. However, our most recent undertaking will take our work one step further to to engage students in tracking their own food waste.

A Food Project staffer cuts watermelons at a BVSD schoolAfter identifying food waste as a department priority for the 2017-18 school year, Food Services sought a multi-pronged strategy to better understand and react to the amount of food waste being created throughout the school meal process. As a part of that strategy, in August 2017, thanks to a grant from Boulder County's Zero Waste program, Food Services installed LeanPath machines in each of BVSD's three regional production kitchens to track and reduce food waste in the initial phases of our school meal production. Now, we are expanding on the successful pilot program by targeting food waste reduction in four school cafeterias and one school satellite kitchen. Thanks to a second grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's RREO Mini-Grant program, later this month, LeanPath Spark systems will be installed at Fireside, Columbine, Centennial and Douglass Elementary Schools to track, in real time, the amount of plate waste that is being thrown away by students at the end of the lunch period. By recording the amount of  post-consumer food waste, Food Services will have the ability to target waste reduction strategies and develop specific messaging for students to engage in reducing their own food waste and working as a community towards a more sustainable school community.


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