Maine Elementary School Starts Zero Waste Lunch Program

By Courtney  Cortright,  WABI TV5

BELFAST, Maine – In a school lunchroom, it’s common many students are eating sandwiches that mom or dad have wrapped in plastic and put in a brown paper bag. But, lunch at a Belfast elementary school looked a little different Thursday.

Maila Demers, FoodCorps Service Member said, “We can reduce waste, help the planet, but we can also call on the students to help solve the problems of waste in our school.”

Lunch is served at Captain Albert Stevens School. What’s on the menu? Nachos, burritos, and don’t forget the carton of milk. Even though this may look like your typical lunch day, students are thinking about the environment.

“We are reducing the amount of waste that we produce at this lunch to raise awareness about how much trash and other things we are throwing away at the school,” said Demers.

It’s a concept started by the student-run group Belfast Refuse Reduce Reuse Recycle. Demers added, “They really want to reduce the amount of plastic that is being produced, and that’s also ending up in the environment.”

Student at CASS, Rosa, said, “We try not to use plastic straws. For the snack cart, we don’t use plastic bags, we use wax bags.”

It’s a difference you can see – cloth napkins instead of paper and reusable water bottles are in the hands of many. It is all thanks to a grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

“We got enough money to get half the students water bottles, and we got water bottle refill stations,” said, Tish Manning, Title I Teacher at Captain Albert Stevens. She added, “It’s something so simple like this that if we can get kids to reuse, they realize they can make a big impact just by reusing something over and over again.”

If you didn’t finish your last bite, there’s a composting station. Manning said, “Our goal is Zero Waste. We are publishing the data so, the kids will actually get to see the data and try to see what they can do to get as close to zero as possible.”

Manning added, “They’re just little shining stars. They really will get in your heart and make you want to bring a zero waste lunch to work.”

“Lunches like these are going to be common. They want to hold three more by the end of the year.”