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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Watch Your Child’s Wasteline at Lunch

Did you know that on average, one school-age child packing a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year? In fact, just one average-sized elementary school of 280 children produces 18,760 pounds or over 9 tons of lunch waste in one school year ( .

Amazingly, almost all of this waste can be prevented AND save you and your child's school money. According to the EPA, a child taking a prepackaged lunch to school spends an average of $4.02 a day or $723.60 per school year compared to $2.65 a day ($477.00 per school year) for a child who packs a waste-free lunch--a difference of $246.60 per person per year! And that's not all. When families pack disposable lunches, schools pay higher waste removal fees. Packing a waste-free lunch reduces the volume of trash and thus helps schools save money.

Here at Pinellas County Extension, we offer a program called the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge. This program is usually conducted following a school visit to our Outdoor Classroom. The idea is for visiting students to have their lunch in the gardens while one of our educators takes them on a tour of their lunchboxes. Concepts of food miles, organic farming, fair trade, recycling, reusing and composting are all addressed over lunch. The challenge for the students is to leave as little waste behind, and to try to have at least one waste-free lunch within the month.


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