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District launches a waste reduction program that includes doations to food bank

COURTESY PHOTO: MATHEUS CENALI FOR UNSPLASH - Corbett School District is working to reduce wasted food in the cafeteria. Corbett School District is working to reduce food waste in its cafeteria by recovering edible food and composting food scraps.

"We have started a number of projects and policies this year to try and reduce our waste and specifically our food waste," Seth Tucker, the district's food services director said in an email.

To help reduce the amount of wasted food, especially fruit and milk, the Corbett School District launched a School Food Share Program. This program aims to recover edible food from the school cafeteria to be offered at another meal or redistributed to a local food bank.

"Each day, students will be invited to donate any whole or packaged foods from their school meals (milk, yogurt, whole, unpeeled/uneaten fruit, string cheese etc.) that is leftover. This food will be collected and redistributed instead of being thrown away," the district said in an announcement.

Local food bank Helping Hands gets the unused food from Corbett Schools.

Food that can't be saved is added to compost buckets and handed over to Growing Seeds Farms near the school.

Tucker said the most common items that end up in the Food Share bins are unopened milk, unpeeled oranges and bananas, apples, unopened yogurt and wrapped string cheese.

The Food Share program will "reduce waste, help teach Corbett students about the issues of wasted food and hunger, and save money," the district said.

Other area schools have similar programs to reduce food waste and some also compost food scraps. Some schools are experimenting with milk dispensers to reduce waste of that school staple.

In the fall, a volunteer food services team conducted a one day breakfast and lunch food waste audit to measure how much food Corbett students were throwing away.

The results of the audit showed that students across the district wide threw out 157 pounds of food in a single day, with fruit and milk making up the majority of the waste. Nearly 50 pounds of fruit was tossed and nearly 40 pounds of milk was dumped.

That adds up to 23,079 pounds of food waste per year.

The audit established a baseline so the district can track its progress going forward as it implements food waste reduction strategies.

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