Opinion: Alison Adams- Flagstaff Academy Students Take Action on Food Waste

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Anyone who has ever witnessed school children eating packed lunches has
seen the painful sight of kids throwing out perfectly good food. As a
teacher at Flagstaff Academy, I saw first-hand how much food waste our
school was generating every day, mostly because our students were tossing
out their uneaten lunches without thinking about the impact.

And with Earth Day approaching, it’s worth noting that our school is just a
tiny part of the problem; an estimated 1 billion food items are wasted
annually in U.S. schools and a shocking 40% of all food purchased in
America is discarded before it is eaten.

As a public charter school with a mission to develop students who are
equipped to be well-rounded, ethical leaders in the world community, our
Flagstaff Academy staff saw an opportunity where we could “think globally
and act locally” when it came to food waste. So when the St. Vrain Valley
School District approached us about starting a student-run “Green Team”
that could take on this challenge, our entire school community was ready to
step up.

Green Team (Photo courtesy of Flagstaff Academy)

From the beginning, student enthusiasm for this project has been inspiring.
Over 25 students came to the first meeting of the Flagstaff Academy Green
Team and eagerly embraced the task of creating a “Food Rescue Table,” where kids would set aside uneaten food for consumption by other students and faculty. Students came up with a plan for how to sort and store the food
and made a presentation to explain the system to their peers and teachers.
The Food Rescue table was launched in February, and it’s been a huge hit so
far, with unused nonperishable items turning into classroom snacks and kids eagerly looking to see what’s available in the cooler when their own
lunches seem less than exciting. They even came up with a great tagline:
“Let’s go green and get our globe clean!”

A wise person once said, ‘what’s measured gets done”, so next year
Flagstaff Academy will start measuring the impact of our efforts through a
Green Up Our Schools (GUOS) grant that will track the before and after
amounts of food waste generated on campus. We hope this data will encourage even more participation from our school community in our Food Rescue program. We also plan to keep fostering our other environmental efforts, including Flagstaff’s greenhouse classroom and teaching garden that includes pollinator plants, vegetables, a native grass prairie field, and
water conservation irrigation.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many challenges facing our planet.
But, as the children at Flagstaff Academy are proving, the best way to make
a difference is to start small and close to home. Whether it’s buying less
food or thinking twice before discarding that bruised apple, reducing food
waste is an area we can all control, one item at a time.

Alison Adams

Longmont, CO 80501

This is an opinion piece that was submitted to the Longmont Observer and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Longmont Observer. If you have an opinion piece you’d like published, please visit our ‘Submit an Opinion’ page.

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