Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

OCT 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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OCTOBER 2017 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 81 where to place their different items. In some parts of the country, composting vendors won't accept certain items, such as meat and bones, in their composting collections. "Here in Boulder, we're allowed to put all food and organic material in the compost bin, which makes things easier for us," says Cooper. Signage for post-consumer composting should include pictures of what — and what not — to include. Some composting programs will accept paper napkins, for example. ● Educate and incentivize students to compost their food every day. "In Boulder, our kids have grown up recycling, and many are even used to seeing composting bins at home or elsewhere in the community," Cooper says. This is not the case everywhere around the country, so some areas might require more daily education and incentivizing than others. ● Perform assessments to take waste management efforts a step further. At Douglas Elementary School in the Boulder Valley School District, students took the lead in encouraging their peers to do their part in reduc- ing trash sent to landfills, Cooper notes. "The students decided they were sick of seeing their peers throw away food in landfill buckets and get confused, so they brought in their own scales, and with the help of a parent, were able to conduct their own assessments by measuring the landfill and compost buckets after different grades would come in for lunch," she says. "We provided school lunch and attendance records and they pulled together a presentation for our administrative staff and even won an award from the EPA this past spring." Cooper says the students did such an amazing job that her team is now recreating their own waste tracking and assessment program that they hope to roll out to all schools in the district. "Waste reduction as a whole is our biggest food initiative for the coming year," she says. Overcoming Age Resistance "The K-5 students are very into recycling and composting, but middle school children are a little more resistant as they grow older and become more independent," Cooper says. Signage at middle schools should be even clearer than at el- ementary schools, with extra volunteers at the middle school level for reinforcement. "By high school, they're into composting again," Cooper adds. "Messaging and education is very important at all lev- els, however." Even at the salad bar, education is important. "We encourage our students to understand portion sizes and take only what they plan to eat," she says. "Everyone is wel- come to come back at any point to take more food, but we're always trying to drive the 'eat what you take, take what you eat' message home and not get them overly excited about what's available. By and large, we don't have a tremendous amount of salad bar waste, which is great." Other than the salad bar, foodservice staff portion all entrees and sides to meet USDA guidelines for K-12 students, which also helps reduce food waste. When it comes to the middle school challenge, Cooper hopes the partnership with LeanPath will help educate and excite students about composting because they will see the food they're throwing away on LCD screens. Other opera- tors use waste tracking software platforms to incentivize staff to track everything they toss into the compost bin — the same types of games and rewards could potentially work well at this school level. "Kids tend to get better about composting if they are faced with looking at it all the time," Cooper says. "Perhaps we could assign teachers and create special teams of stu- dents dedicated to overseeing the composting program and encouraging other students to get more involved." For the new school year, in addition to continuing with composting, the School Food Project will now allow students to return whole, unused fruit back to school lunch staff, who will wash the produce and reserve it for a different meal period. The "share tables" program has been approved by the local health department as part of the USDA's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Cooper believes that with the right resources, partners, edu- cation and involvement, post-consumer composting will become a reality, not only in restaurants and colleges/universities, but even in K-12 school districts throughout the country. FE&S PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS Portland Public Schools has implemented a recycling, com- posting and trash separation program in its cafeterias, as well as the elimination of all Styrofoam trays. The program gives students the opportunity for hands-on learning about recy- cling, waste reduction and composting beyond simply making the district an environmental leader in its community with the goal of zero waste. "In years past, cafeterias generated the most trash of any area in our school buildings," Jane McLucas, foodservice director, said on a blog post. "Edible food waste represented an estimat- ed 25 percent to 40 percent of the trash generated in district cafeterias." Add other recyclable and compostable materials currently used in the cafeterias and the percentage of waste that could be diverted from the dumpster during breakfast and lunch increases to an estimated 80 percent. Separating stations set up in each cafeteria allow students to sort trash, food waste and recyclables into a series of bins and buckets. Student Green Teams at each school, with teacher guidance, form the core group that launches and monitors the pilot.

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