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Local schools track lunchroom waste as part of Waste-Free Lunch Challenge

Cheyenne Williams sorts through Soda Creek Elementary's lunchroom foods scraps during a waste audit with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council on Friday, April 14.

Cheyenne Williams sorts through Soda Creek Elementary’s lunchroom foods scraps during a waste audit with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council on Friday, April 14.

To understand and reduce school lunchroom waste on a national level, the Environmental Research and Education Foundation has launched the School Cafeteria Discards Assessment Project (SCrAP). As part of its annual Waste-Free Lunch Challenge, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council recruited Emerald Mountain School, Mountain Village Montessori, Strawberry Park Elementary, Soda Creek Elementary and Steamboat Springs Middle School to participate in this national data collection project.

Students are weighing trash, recycling, food scraps and unopened food six times leading up to the start of spring break this Friday. Most schools are also doing full waste audits with the Sustainability Council to take a deeper dive into what is in each bin. Students and staff are digging through the trash, recycling and food scraps to see what is being thrown out and to learn how their actions can impact the waste stream. In return for participating in the SCrAP, participating Steamboat schools are eligible to win $1,500 and will receive a snapshot report of their lunchroom waste to see how their school compares to others around the country and the state.

As part of this project, the Sustainability Council is challenging students and parents to strive for waste-free lunches. At the end of the lunch period, what is left in the trash can is primarily plastic bags, chip bags, disposable plastic tableware and Styrofoam™ dishware, which all have reusable, more environmentally-friendly options. Visit www.yvsc.org/waste-free-lunch for tips and resources to pack a waste-free lunch.