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Bend-La Pine Schools Cafeteria Composting Expands

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools is expanding its school-based food composting program to cut back on food waste generated by the 11,000 meals the district serves daily.

8 schools now participate, with Pine Ridge and Bear Creek elementaries joining this spring with William E. Miller Elementary School (which launched the pilot program in 2009), Juniper Elementary School, Westside Village Magnet School, Amity Creek Magnet School, Mountain View High School and the production kitchen at Bend Senior High School. Ponderosa comes online next month. 

Students learn to ‘love food, not waste’, and the message is working says Pine Ridge fifth grader Sharlie, “It’s helpful to pick what you want, so you’ll eat it, and so our earth just doesn’t become one big landfill.”

She’s part of the 65 member Green Team which helps teach other kids about curbing lunchroom waste by sorting food, recyclables, and garbage. Arden is a fourth grader at Pine Ridge Elementary and also a member of the Green Team, “The food that we throw away that goes in the land fill…we actually have to chop down trees and plants to make our landfill…and it pollutes the planet when we make our landfill.”

“It’s really simple because all you have to do is just put all the stuff that isn’t edible into a trash can, and put all your food into a green bucket. Then stack your boats, and that’s that”, says Sophia, a 5th grade member of the Green Team.

It’s apparently helping; district officials report a 36% reduction in food trash since starting the campaign in 2009.

Choose versus serve is a way the district is reducing food waste. 4th grader Payton says not being served food, but rather given choice of what to take also helps reduce waste, “Because if you choose what you want to eat, you know you’re going to eat it and not waste the food.”

Food waste is hauled to Knott Landfill’s commercial composting program by Cascade Disposal and Republic Services. Costs associated with expanding this program are funded through the end of the current school year by Deschutes County Solid Waste.


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