2019 School Committee Question 5

5. Green Newton School Connections Group has been working on several initiatives. Would you like to comment on one or more of them?

Please note: The responses from those who accepted our invitation to answer in writing are listed alphabetically.

Margaret Albright  |  Ruth Goldman Emily Prenner | Galina Rosenblit  |  Kathy Shields

Margaret Albright

In my work with Safe Routes and transportation I’ve learned that having a person on the school side on issues like transportation or sustainability is not always the most efficient or effective.  We purchase energy, trash service, park maintenance and other services as a city not a school district.  Thinking of this more broadly and holistically helps accomplish more.  As we start discussing the city’s climate action plan we need to have a coordinated response across city and schools.

I know both food waste and single use plastics are student concerns and something our food service vendor is very aware of.  This is behavior change and takes education and encouragement to get to happen – and that means educating and encouraging the adults as well as the students.

Again, a food recovery program would need to be done in conjunction with our food service vendor, Whitson’s.  Whitson’s has just come on board as vendor and I hope that as our relationship matures we can begin to work together on reducing waste and food recovery.

Ruth Goldman

I am a big fan of the composting/food recovery and food waste reduction in the cafeterias as well as reducing the use of plastic.  Some of this runs into “health regulations” but I’m sure much of it can be overcome.  I think students are very interested in seeing and becoming involved in these hands on activities as we saw over the past couple years with Project Citizen – several groups looked at food waste/composting etc. in the cafeterias.

I’m not a big fan of just “hiring” someone but at looking at what tasks we want to accomplish or what kind of thinking we want to integrate into our district and then figuring out how best to accomplish this.  Perhaps it is another part-time person in Food Service or facilities and maintenance, perhaps it is training programs or more capacity at the city.

Emily Prenner

a. Hiring a dedicated Sustainability Coordinator for Newton Public Schools
The city and the schools need to work together to ensure sustainability and recycling practices are implemented in all city buildings. The city already has a sustainability coordinator, and I am interested in exploring ways the coordinator can work with NPS.
b. Reducing food waste and single use plastic in school cafeterias
I support this initiative. NPS needs to work with our new food service provider, Whitson’s, to make this happen.
c. Implementing a food recovery program at NPS
Like reducing food waste and single use plastics, this is definitely something NPS should be doing in partnership with Whitson’s. NPS should also confer other nearby communities who have implemented food recovery programs to see what has worked in those school districts.

Galina Rosenblit

Hiring a dedicated Sustainability Coordinator for Newton Public Schools
Will support it, assuming school hires person with appropriate qualification.

Reducing food waste and single use plastic in school cafeterias
Will enthusiastically support.

Implementing a food recovery program at NPS
Will enthusiastically support.

Kathy Shields

I think that the goal of reducing food waste and the use of single use plastic in school cafeterias is achievable over the next three years of our contract with Whitson’s, the new NPS food vendor.  Sustainability is one of the criteria evaluated in selecting the new vendor, and Whitson’s has experience in implementing similar programs in other school districts.  Several schools have already implemented food composting programs that have been led by parents and students, and I understand that similar programs are being discussed at other schools.  I encourage NPS to work with Whitson’s to assist in implementing these programs, and would hope that the City’s new contract with a composting provider could work synergistically with these efforts.

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