Food Waste Reduction Activities and Lesson Plans

Original post from The Green Team  – 
April 09, 2020

Welcome to the first edition of our weekly eblast sharing environmental education resources that your students can do from home. We hope these emails will help support efforts to engage your students in remote learning while schools are closed.

This week’s featured topic is Food Waste Reduction. Many families purchased extra food in the rush to stay well stocked at home, or are trying to stretch the food they have available to last longer. Now is a great moment for your students to learn about methods of reducing wasted food and composting food scraps.

Here are some activities and lesson plans that THE GREEN TEAM has created or collected to teach your students about the importance of composting and food waste reduction:

  • THE GREEN TEAM Compost Lesson: In this lesson plan, students will learn how soil organisms recycle organic wastes through composting. It has been aligned with Massachusetts curriculum standards for Math, English Language Arts, and Science & Technology/Engineering. Also, check out this quick and easy compost guide: Composting is Easy!
  • Waste-Free Snacks Challenge: As part of the Green Education Foundation’s Waste Reduction Challenge, this activity asks students to think critically and analyze the waste produced from their daily snacks and lunch, and invites them to explore alternatives that generate less packaging and food waste.
  • Save the Food: This website, sponsored by the AdCouncil and National Resource Defense Council, includes tools, tips, practical guidance on how to reduce food waste through proper planning and storage techniques, and impactful videos.

Watch The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry:

The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry

Follow the journey of a strawberry from the farm to the refrigerator to understand all that it takes to bring your food to you. Did you know that 40% of our food ends up wasted? Wasted food is the single largest contributor to landfills in the US—not to mention that it wastes water, labor, fuel, money, & love!

Composting at Mason-Rice

Original post from the Mayor’s Update – 
By Mayor Ruthanne Fuller,  Feb 28, 2020
Mason-Rice Elementary School this week launched a food waste composting program in its cafeteria. Mason-Rice is the third school with composting, joining Angier and Zervas where similar programs started last year.
Special thanks to Mason-Rice Principal Jake Bultema and several parents, including Heather Friedman and Wendy Sheu, and our Newton Department of Public Works for bringing composting to another school.
The food waste will be picked up at Mason-Rice twice weekly by Black Earth Compost. School recycling and food waste diversion programs are being coordinated by Newton DPW on a voluntary basis. Interested in knowing more? Contact Erica with Newton DPW at [email protected]
Leftover food and food waste thrown in the garbage make up 26 percent of the weight of trash collected in Massachusetts. That not only fills landfills, it costs us a lot of money in waste disposal fees. Instead of throwing food waste in the trash, composting turns leftover food back into soil to grow more food.
Interested in composting at your own home? You can purchase a bin for your backyard through the City for $25 here.
You can also sign up with Black Earth Composting for curbside food waste collection. Black Earth Compost, the City-vetted company residents can sign with for curbside collection, costs Newtonians $59.99 for six months, plus a one-time start-up fee of $34 to pay for a 13-gallon lockable bin. Black Earth Compost will collect your food waste once a week at the curb on the same collection day as your trash/recycling. Get more information about composting and Black Earth Compost at​
Stay tuned for more news on bringing your food waste for composting at the City of Newton Resource Recovery Center on Rumford Avenue. We expect this program to be up and running in the next few months.

Food Services: Focus on nutritious and delicious food, and sustainability

Food Service will be provided by Whitsons this year at Newton Public Schools. Whitsons was selected as the new vendor in May mainly because they promised to focus on serving nutritious and delicious food, keeping sustainability a priority and ensuring students are at their best. School Connections played an active role in advocating for this, and now our job is to make sure this becomes a reality. One of the ways we will be doing it is by participating in the recently formed Food Service Advisory Group (FSAG), which has representatives from all Newton Schools.

If you would like to provide feedback, ask questions or express concerns about the new food service provider at your school, please complete this form created by FSAG: Food Service Community Comment Form

Check out the updated website where you can find menus, allergy information and more.

Here is an excerpt from Whitsons’ Welcome page:

Food Waste Reduction 

Whitsons is committed to doing our part when it comes to food loss and waste reduction. By keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of our landfills, we are helping address far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation, and climate change. As a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion, Whitsons is striving to reduce food loss and waste in all operations by 50 percent by 2030 through activities targeting the prevention of food loss and waste before it arises, recovery of wholesome otherwise wasted food for donation, and recycling of food loss and waste to other uses such as animal feed, compost, and energy generation.

Whitsons is pleased to introduce Meatless Monday to your school cafeteria!

Meatless Monday is a science-based public health initiative associated with Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its goal is to reduce chronic preventable diseases by encouraging less consumption of meat. This campaign will enable school staff and students to make even more nutritious choices, as well as help improve the health of the planet. By adopting Meatless Monday, we are helping to move towards a more sustainable food system and healthier eating habits that last a lifetime.

Meatless Monday will feature meal options made without meat each Monday. To be clear, dishes with meat will still be offered on Mondays; we are just providing new meatless options. We hope that students will enjoy our new meatless menu offering and will support the Meatless Monday campaign along with us.