PALMDALE – The City of Palmdale was presented with the 2017 Outstanding School Recycling Program Award by the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) for an innovative food recycling program.
Palmdale’s Environmental and Technology Manager Ben Lucha and Management Analyst Mica Schuler accepted the award for the city on behalf of its partnering organizations Palmdale School District, South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) and Grace Resources.
Each year, the CRRA’s Outstanding School Recycling Program Award is presented to a business, government agency, community-based organization or school that has excelled in implementing and carrying out a recycling and/or diversion program.
In Palmdale, the program got its start in the Palmdale School District, when Todd Cherland, Director of Nutritional Services, was concerned about the number of local children who did not have enough to eat. With Californians disposing almost 5.8 million tons of food— 16 percent of which is edible— Cherland was surprised with how much food was being thrown out and wasted in schools.
Cherland contacted Food Bus, an organization that promotes food recovery for the sake of alleviating hunger by collecting unused and unopened food leftover from elementary school lunches, and learned that the district could qualify for refrigerators at no cost for food donations.
Cherland and his team implemented a pilot food recovery program at Cimarron Elementary, which was so overwhelmingly successful that 19 schools in the district are now participating.
Thanks to Palmdale’s award-winning program:
- Approximately 6,000 pounds of food is donated monthly.
- Waste at the schools has decreased significantly.
- Kids are excited to participate in recycling. A food donation cart is left in the cafeteria and kids choose to donate food they are not going to eat.
- Milk is now being donated by creating a procedure for handling and storing.
- Local food banks have benefited with the additional food donations. South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) receives donations from 16 schools and Grace Resource Center receives donations from three.
Due to the success of this program and in partnership with Palmdale School District, and Los Angeles County, the City of Palmdale created an educational video outlining the success of this program. View the video below:
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]