Joaquin Miller Elementary Students Lead Charge to Prevent Wasted Food
On October 3, the student body at Joaquin Miller Elementary School in Oakland came together during an assembly to kick off a new movement to reduce wasted food at their school.
Approximately 40 percent of edible food ends up in landfills, never reaching a plate, despite the fact that one out of five residents faces food insecurity in Alameda County. Schools can play an influential role in helping to solve this problem.
With support from StopWaste and the school’s Green Team, students and staff are taking action to ensure that edible food isn’t wasted through a new food share and donation program. Supported in part by a Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant from CalRecycle and in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, the K-12 Smart Cafeteria Initiative allows students to share uneaten sealed food or unbitten whole fruit in the school cafeteria by establishing food share tables, then donating surplus food at the end of meal service to feed people in need. The program is also being introduced at schools in Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, with the goal of expanding countywide.
Organizers also took the opportunity to educate students about the issue of food insecurity and the importance of nourishing themselves at school. Students were encouraged to consider the choices they can make at lunch by being mindful of taking what they know they will eat, and communicating with the adults who pack their lunches about what they like to eat to reduce potential waste in the first place. Presenters also spoke about the importance of composting and recycling, as well as the critical role proper sorting plays in protecting the environment, in connection with the school’s Ocean Guardian project funded by NOAA.