Committed to Composting
A stumper was the half-eaten, snack-sized container of guacamole. The student had pulled the protective film away, but only eaten a few bites. Should it go into the compost, recycling, or what, wondered the first grader at Katonah Elementary School. She brought it to the lunch monitor, who showed the child how to wipe the left-over guac out with a napkin. That could be tossed into the compost bin, and the container put into the recycling.
The availability of one-to-one coaching in the cafeteria is an indication of Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s commitment to teaching responsible decision making and sustainable practices.
Coaching in the Cafeteria
Throughout the year, monitors in the district’s elementary schools stand next to the three creatively labeled cans in the center of each cafeteria, encouraging and guiding the students as they sort their waste. Milk cartons and juice bottles go in the blue recycling can. Apple cores and other food scraps, as well as lunch trays and—new this year, the cafeteria-issued utensils—go into the green compost can. The little that’s left—perhaps a plastic sandwich bag or a food wrapper—is put in the gray trash can.
Students Choose Green!
In school year 18-19, KLSD composted over 11.2041 tons from K-12 cafeterias and kitchens
“A big part of the opening days and weeks of school are dedicated to teaching our students what goes where in the cafeteria,” said Kweon Stambaugh, assistant principal at Katonah Elementary School. “Our older students are very knowledgeable. Monitors and teachers work with our primary grade students who require prompting. We encourage them to ask questions if they are not sure. “
Katonah-Lewisboro’s award-winning composting program got its start at KES. The school began a composting pilot program in individual classrooms in 2008, which grew into a school-wide initiative in 2011. The district’s other two elementary schools, Increase Miller and Meadow Pond, were taking food scraps out of the waste stream by the 2012-2013 school year. John Jay Middle School implemented the program grade by grade from 2013-2016 and John Jay High School kicked off composting in 2017. “In school year 18-19, KLSD composted over 11 tons from our K-12 cafeterias and kitchens,” said Paul Christensen, the district’s director of facilities.
Dawn Pomeroy, assistant principal of Meadow Pond Elementary School, Andrew Galotti, assistant principal of Increase Miller Elementary School, and Stambaugh each take the lead in weaving sustainable practices into their school.
“I give demonstrations at lunches,” said Galotti. “Several parents involved in sustainability do a refresher with students in January.”
“I handed out fake food and food containers during our first assembly,” said Pomeroy. “The students took turns putting them into the correct waste bins and telling the audience why. We’ll review this throughout the year.”