Take Your Breakfast After the Bell Program to the Next Level
Breakfast after the bell programs offer excellent opportunities to help students cultivate leadership qualities and introduce them to new fresh fruits and vegetables. The National Farm to School Network and the Center for Green Schools provide district leadership teams with tools and resources to elevate breakfast after the bell programs with local foods and environmentally friendly procedures.
“Composting and recycling should go along with breakfast. I wish there was more information in the hands of teachers and administrators about the importance of healthy meals, particularly breakfast, as it relates to academic achievement. I believe connecting healthy food to academics is a way to speak the same language and mutually achieve our goals.” —School district sustainability coordinator, North Carolina
Green schools sustain the world students live in, enhance their health and well-being, and prepare them to be leaders who embrace global sustainability. Schools and districts that embrace these principles, including the nearly 100 school districts participating in the Center for Green Schools sustainability network, model healthy personal choices that are also good for the earth, including through breakfast after the bell programs.
Divert waste from landfills: A study in Minneapolis found that schools generate an average half pound of waste per person per day, about one fourth of which is food. Green schools significantly decrease their carbon footprint by diverting common items from the trash. For instance, plastic bottles and cardboard can be recycled while organic food waste, liquids and nonrecyclable paper can be composted.
- Dig deep. Identify the kinds of materials tossed with a waste audit. Then conduct interviews and site visits to identify opportunities to use less, use items more efficiently or better divert waste. California’s Integrated Waste Management Board developed “Seeing Green Through Waste Prevention” to guide school districts.
- Start at the source. Successful waste management programs begin with purchasing food that has less packaging and can be easily separated into compostable, recyclable and landfill containers. For example, food that comes in a single container made of a single type of material (paper or plastic, aluminum or cardboard), instead of a combination of multiple materials, is easier to sort.
- Sort in the classroom. Implement procedures to sort waste before it is removed from the classroom. Use separate bags in the classroom to collect landfill, recyclable, compostable and unopened food items. Alternatively, set up sorting stations in a central location right outside the classroom, allowing students to quickly toss trash, paper, plastic, compost and food donation items in separate containers.
Approximately half of the Clark County School District’s schools implement breakfast after the bell programs, and many teachers and students participate in recycling and sorting waste. Classes grab breakfast each morning from a set point, typically a multipurpose room, and students eat in the classroom. After they are done eating, students empty excess food into 5-gallon pails with liners, both provided by the food service department. Empty food and drink containers are placed in classroom recycling and landfill baskets, and custodians pick up the baskets each night. “Teachers model emptying the food and drink containers and monitor appropriate behavior until the students get it right,” says the district’s sustainability coordinator. “It usually only takes a couple of days and the kids are recycling champions!”
Learn more about the important role of district sustainability coordinators with Center for Green School’s 2014 report, “Managing Sustainability in School Districts.”