Harvest Time!

Waste audit line at the elementary school.

Student 'Green Team' assists classmates with sorting their lunch waste

School Food Waste in Davis County, by John Bruce, Area 6

The Davis County Community School District is located in Bloomfield, Iowa, in the southeastern region of the state. In 2016 and 2017 the school district was one of a number of schools in Iowa that participated in a joint Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Natural Resources pilot program to assess school food waste and develop the Iowa Schools Food Waste Minimization Toolkit.

In December 2016 an Iowa Waste Exchange resource specialist, with help from a member of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, assisted the school district in conducting waste audits at the elementary, middle and high school lunch rooms. On a given day the school district serves about 850 meals at lunchtime, and after collecting the necessary data the waste audits determined that organic food and recyclables were the largest waste producing categories by weight. Using this information the Iowa Waste Exchange developed an action plan with input from the school district that included integrating school kitchen and lunch recyclables into their standard recycling pickup, as well as an ambitious effort to begin composting organic waste.

The school district went through the necessary educational and permitting processes, with assistance from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and intends to have their composting site fully functional in spring 2018. The school district also expects to take organic waste from around the community to compost. They have combined the composting effort with an existing project called the School Garden & Habitat Study Area that will allow students an opportunity to grow food that will be used to prepare meals at the school.

Through recycling and composting, the Davis County Community School District will annually divert over twenty nine tons of material from the local landfill, resulting in an annual cost savings of about $1350. More importantly, the composting project will provide a valuable educational opportunity for students.

Iowa Schools Food Waste Minimization Toolkit

IWE Success Stories
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