Boulder Valley School District

Grant Turns Students into Food Waste Warriors 

Grant Turns Students into Food Waste Warriors 
Randy Barber

Did you know that a plate of steak requires approximately 12,000 gallons of water to produce and a plate of vegetables requires about 200 gallons? Needless to say, reducing food waste is a big deal. 

That is why the School Food Project is implementing the World Wildlife Fund's Food Waste Warriors program. Thanks to a grant from the Fund, teams of students at five BVSD schools are currently conducting a series of food waste audits in their cafeterias. During these audits, students are helping their peers separate their food waste into eight categories:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Composed Entrees
  • Non-Food Compostables
  • Milk
  • Other Liquid
  • Recycling
  • Landfill

They weigh the waste accumulated throughout lunch and use the data to better understand the environmental impact of wasted food. 

“Preventing and reducing food waste is one of the best things you can do to conserve natural resources and save wildlife,” says Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste for the World Wildlife Fund.


The data will help to further waste reduction in BVSD schools and it will also be aggregated with the data collected in eight other communities across the country to inform the first dataset of its kind. Generalizations are made on a regular basis about the amount of food wasted in schools every day, however, there are currently no hard numbers to back up those claims.

CBS Denver: ‘Food Waste Warriors’ Help Educate To Reduce Waste At School

“There are about 5.4 billion lunches served a year, a little over 30 million a day, so when you think of that potential waste and you think of that climate change and degradation it’s a big, big picture,” says BVSD Food Services Director, Ann Cooper.


The students’ work with the World Wildlife Fund will allow evidence-based conclusions to be made and will inform future policy recommendations by the EPA, USDA and other federal entities.

Did you know?
Sustainability efforts are continuously ongoing inside BVSD schools. There are now 38 Green Star Schools in the district, which means in addition to recycling, Green Star schools compost and has an added focus on reducing and reusing. The Green Star program is funded with support from Boulder County, the City of Boulder, Eco-Cycle, and the school district. 


Recent Stories