Local schools, SWACO work to educate students, limit waste production in Franklin County

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COLUMBUS — According to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, nearly 69 million meals are missed every year by Franklin County residents who go hungry. The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) also estimates that 192 million meals are being sent to landfills by Franklin County residents and businesses.

All of SWACO’s involvement stems from their work to create the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, which is a collaboration of more than 60 organizations in central Ohio working together to address food waste.

To limit food waste, four local schools participated in a project funded by SWACO as a result of a grant received from The World Wildlife Fund and Kroger.

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The education focuses on food waste prevention and conservation of our natural resources. Schools have introduced “food sharing tables” to make additional food available for students who are still hungry after lunch further reducing edible food from being sent to the landfill.

One of the schools, Maize Elementary, has been participating in the program for several weeks now and their Principal, Tiffany Genton, said that she’s amazed by how her students have limited their waste production.

“After they received the education and could see some of the pictures of the landfills, they began to understand how trash impacts all of us,” Genton said. “SWACO has been helping our students understand what they’re learning in the classroom can be taken into our school gardens, how we can compost and take our waste from our compost bins and add them to our gardens.”

After students are finished with lunch, they dispose of their remaining food materials into specific bins. SWACO will then weigh all of the material collected to learn how much of each type of food is discarded.

SWACO will then use the data collected from Maize Elementary and the three other schools to help create new programs for all Franklin County schools to use to decrease the amount of food wasted.