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Suggestions on how to implement the FoodCycle program into schools

The Sunnyvale FoodCycle program is moving into public schools and businesses, here are some thoughts on how we can better incorporate it.

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Written by

Homestead High School Green Ops and Science for Change

How are you connected to Sunnyvale?

  • I visit Sunnyvale regularly.

What type of applicant are you?

  • Team

Stage of Development.

  • Early concept or idea (<few months of work)

What problem are you aiming to solve? (100 words)

We are attempting to solve the issue of food waste in Sunnyvale.

Tell us more about your climate strategy or solution (500 words)

Food waste is a major waste source. Students often do not eat all of their school lunches, so they tend to generate food waste. We hope that we can help them to reduce and properly dispose food waste. FoodCycle bins are currently being implemented into public schools and businesses, so this idea hopes to further develop an effective system of food waste bins to address the problem of food waste in schools.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (100 words)

Having an effective food waste system at schools would reach thousands of school age children every weekday, as well as educating them about waste issues.

Explain how your idea would be implemented in Sunnyvale (700 words)

Because children eat one meal a day at school, by implementing compost bins a significantly higher amount of leftover food would be composted every day. Additionally, food waste from the cafeteria would not be thrown out but instead composted. In order to get kids interested (especially younger ones), a food waste seminar in the school cafeteria or by teachers in classrooms could prove effective, perhaps teaching them about the compost process and how much energy/waste is being saved and helping the environment by their participation. Stickers, bookmarks explaining what to compost or recycle, and perhaps randomly given free t-shirts could be effective in causing kids to participate more enthusiastically.
Sunnyvale currently has the program FoodCycle. This program is currently being expanded into public schools already, and was piloted in some schools as well.
It would also be extremely beneficial (not so much cost efficient) to begin to give out compostable utensils as opposed to the non-recyclable plastic ones. This would further kid’s environmental awareness as they begin to learn that not all materials must go in the trash can. Other utensils, like wooden chopsticks, could be omitted from schools as they promote the cutting of trees for utensils that you use once then throw away. Eliminating wooden chopsticks may cause students to feel less ethnically involved, but would cause less trees to be cut and consumed by schools every year.
Improving the system of recycling plastic and paper in schools could also prove beneficial. Children have plastic water bottles, food cups, and other recyclables that often get thrown away because it is unclear whether there is a recycling bin or not; or if there is one, it is in the middle of campus and far away from where kids eat lunch (ex: Sunnyvale Middle). It could prove effective to provide classrooms with three or four bins: one for paper recycling, plastic recycling, garbage, and perhaps compost, or at the very least require teachers to have three bins in their classes. Children are often confused if there is only one recycling bin, and it is not specified for paper or plastic. By clearly outlining what waste should go where, an increase of plastic and paper recycling should occur.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (250 words)

According to the EPA, "About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities." https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home. Implementing a food waste program to reduce waste in homes has been a positive first step, but there are other facilities that could benefit from having a program as well.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of people affected. (250 words)

This idea would hopefully reach all students in Sunnyvale's public schools, which is around 12,000 students, about 180 days per year.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (500 words)

FoodCycle bins have already been implemented in homes, so we believe that transitioning them to schools and businesses will only be an extension, especially since each of these facilities serves more people.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (300 words)

We would need various bins for the different types of waste, and those who pick up waste from schools would have to be aware of the different categories of waste.

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  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

Green Ops-We are a club that promotes environmental awareness and sustainability. Throughout the year, we have different initiatives and activities to get the student population involved in the environmental movement.

Science for Change-Science For Change promotes exploration and having fun with science. Members learn about various science topics through experiments, guest speakers, and activities that combine science and community service.
Special thanks to Isabel Serrato

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Team

You have identified an important issue. Perhaps it would be good to talk with Jackie Davison, of the City of Sunnyvale.