Student efforts result in ‘drastic’ drop in food waste

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  • (Daily Bee file photo/CAROLINE LOBSINGER) Washington Elementary second graders attended the Earth Day celebration at Farmin Park on April 20 to educate the community about food waste and their efforts to reduce it.

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    (Courtesy photo) Washington Elementary second graders educate a classmate on which items to put in the garbage and what could go in the bucket for farm animals during their efforts to reduce food waste this past year.

  • (Daily Bee file photo/CAROLINE LOBSINGER) Washington Elementary second graders attended the Earth Day celebration at Farmin Park on April 20 to educate the community about food waste and their efforts to reduce it.

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    (Courtesy photo) Washington Elementary second graders educate a classmate on which items to put in the garbage and what could go in the bucket for farm animals during their efforts to reduce food waste this past year.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of five stories detailing the growing efforts of Design for Change Sandpoint as several local youth prepare to represent the United States at the DFC global summit in Rome in November.

By MARY MALONE

Staff writer

SANDPOINT — With approximately 40 percent of food wasted across the country each year, Washington Elementary second graders knew they had to do something.

“I was shocked,” Gemma Cudmore, who is heading into third grade this year, said of learning about food waste.

Averi Mire, who was also in the group of students that took on food waste reduction for their Design for Change project last year, added that she was surprised as well at how much food people waste nationwide. As such, the second-grade class took on the task of food waste reduction at their school.

“The second graders were very passionate about their project and made a lasting change at Washington Elementary,” said Ann Dickinson, Washington Elementary sixth-grade teacher and DFC Sandpoint coordinator. “Along with educating Washington Elementary students about food waste, the students from the class would spend their lunch and part of their recess helping others in the cafeteria sort what food could be reused and what was trash. Their efforts paid off with a drastic reduction in food waste at Washington. I believe these kids show that one is never too young to create positive change.”

The group used the DFC process, feel-imagine-do-share, throughout the project. In starting with the feel stage, the kids researched and discovered how much food is wasted nationwide, and then did a test to see how much was wasted in one day at their school.

Just that first day, the girls said, they weighed 36 pounds of food waste at Washington Elementary.

They ultimately put out buckets in the school cafeteria and spent their breaks educating the other students each day on what they could and could not put in the buckets. The group reached out to farmers in the community who could use the food waste for their animals. However, meat and citrus could not be mixed in with the scraps, so the kids were careful not to allow any such items into the buckets.

In weighing the food waste after starting the project, the girls said it had dropped from 36 pounds to 12.

The students also started a food share program. As an example, Gemma said if a student had a whole orange that they were not going to eat, they could put in the food share bin for someone else who might want it.

They also set out to educate others about food waste. They held an assembly, and did a play and puppet show about the food waste and what could go in each barrel. To educate the broader community, the kids went on the radio and had a booth at the Earth Day celebration at Farmin Park.

Both girls said they were glad their class took on the food waste reduction project for various reasons, but mostly because of the education they were able to provide to others.

“It was fun teaching kids how to (sort food) in the cafeteria, and it was fun doing the play,” Averi said.

“My favorite part was teaching the kids to do it because it was really helpful … teaching kids how to do other things and make a difference in the community,” Gemma added.

While the students focused primarily on the issue at Washington Elementary this past year, they aim to spread the message from the global stage this fall.

Dickinson said Averi and Gemma are among the 20 former and current Washington Elementary students who will be heading to Rome in November, representing the United States at the DFC global summit.

The students chosen represent six different DFC projects that have made a difference locally and across the world over the past three years, with four attending from the food waste initiative.

The food waste reduction group needs community support in order to represent the United States at this year’s global summit. The kids are asking if the local food industries would be willing to help them reach their goal of $14,000. Donations are tax deductible through the nonprofit Walk For HOPE and can be mailed to Walk For HOPE, P.O. Box 2585, Sandpoint, Idaho, 83864. Checks should have “Design For Change Food Waste Project” in the memo.

In addition, each group has a separate GoFundMe page for people to choose which project they would like to support. For information or to donate to the food waste effort, visit gofundme.com/stop-school-food-waste. Fundraisers, such as a rummage sale, will be coming up soon as well. Follow Design for Change Sandpoint on Facebook for project and fundraising information.

Stay tuned to learn more about the other three DFC projects and how their efforts have impacted the community.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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