With a passion to protect the environment, a group of students from Peters Elementary School – part of the Garden Grove Unified School District – helped champion a district-wide program to replace Styrofoam lunch trays with new eco-friendly trays made from recycled milk carton stock and recovered fiber. The eco-friendly material breaks down quickly in a composting facility versus Styrofoam, which does not decompose.
Students from the Peters’ Environmental Club, Step It Up led by teacher Mrs. Terra Walker, began a petition drive more than five years ago to help make the district more environmentally-friendly. Students proposed several ideas to eliminate food waste at their school and throughout the district. With the support of GGUSD Food Services Director Agnes Lally, students were successful with the launch of the new trays.
Peters Elementary School also has a Share Bin in the cafeteria, a practice in place districtwide for three years, which allows students to reduce food waste. Unwanted items such as packaged carrots, yogurt cups, milk, and fresh fruit are placed in the Share Bin for other students.
Also new this year, the district entered into a pilot agreement with “Waste Not OC,” a program that allows the Food Services Department to donate leftover food from the district office café to a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, and community after-school program where it can be consumed quickly. The Food Services Department has plans to expand the program to school sites in future years.