As Western Journalism has extensively chronicled, public schools across the nation have seen a dramatic increase in uneaten food since the implementation of federal regulations limiting what may be served on campus.
In response to the excessive waste, some districts have opted out of the program supported by Michelle Obama–despite the fact that doing so means the loss of substantial federal funding. Others are taking a more pragmatic approach, including a Rhode Island community that opted to feed discarded meals to hogs on local farms.
A South Carolina high school is reportedly pursuing a similar course.
Lower Richland High School administrators are supporting a unique recycling program with the food trashed daily in its cafeteria. Not only does such a solution allow the school to maintain its current level of nutrition funding; the recycling program also qualifies for federal money.
Known as the LyfeCycle Innovation Project, the interactive program supports a greenhouse in which worms are fed discarded food, which they use to create more effective compost. The end result is fresh produce and flowers that support various programs at the school.
Of the roughly 200 pounds of discarded food the school handles each week, more than half is recycled through this project.
“All the food waste we’ve had, we’ve saved so much from it,” explained Nazaire Bethea, who supervises student projects at the school. “We’re doing something productive with it.”
Estimates indicate that, all together, public schools in the U.S. lose $1 billion annually due to food waste.
Should Michelle Obama dictate what public school students are allowed to eat? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.