Many may know that Clarke Middle School has goats, chickens and a rockin’ garden.
But what goes on inside the lunch room is just as, if not, more exciting for our community. Each day, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Julia Calder, and with the help of CMS students and faculty, create a waste-disposal system that students and staff contribute to during their assigned lunch period.
A recycling container is placed with the trash cans as well as a container for compostable items. Students and adults are encouraged to separate their food items like banana peels, corn and broccoli into the compost as well as napkins (bleach-free!) . Recyclable items are quite common in our lunch room meals and we average about 25-30 pounds a day!
Once students have cleared the cafeteria a team of students go to work by counting the total weight of compost, which averages about 20-40 a day, as well as the recycling. Our 4-bin compost system that is located on campus at CMS is a great learning opportunity for students; showing active chemistry happening right before our eyes and the importance of placing carbon back into the soil-where it belongs!
In addition to reducing our waste that is taken to a landfill we collect uneaten/unwanted fruits in collection bowls that are placed on all lunch tables by students. Since the first day of school this year (2016-2017) we have collected 921 food items that can be eaten by students during the school day or for them to take home. Some of these items are used to make smoothies for the faculty and staff, by our principle, as a thank you for their hard work and dedication to the education of children. This is an incredibly special program that has now begun in all four middle schools-way to go VISTA team!
All of these awesome sustainability practices would not be possible without the unyielding support of the Clarke County School District, it’s faculty and staff. Student support is also vital to ensure that our work is meaningful and life-enhancing. The University of Georgia also plays a vital role in our work in the middle schools by funding positions like the AmeriCorps VISTA and the School Garden Coordinator, Wick Prichard.
The awareness that we are creating about sustainability is monumental in this community and I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished thus far.
We can only go up from here!