West Michigan school district goes green for Earth Month

OTSEGO, Mich. -- Students at Otsego Public Schools are getting a hands-on course about the environment and waste with the district's #OtseGoGreen campaign.

"It is important just so we can conserve and help consolidate our food waste," said Director of Dining Services at Otsego Public Schools Connor Kooyers. "Making students aware that what they are doing even here at school does have an impact even in their local community, and making them aware to just be environmental conscious about how much food they are taking both here at school and out in the public."

The district launched the initiative for Earth Month to teach students the importance of taking care of the earth and what they can do to eliminate waste.

Each week students will count and weigh the amount of waste they produce during lunch and then address what they can do to to produce less.

Decorating the walls of the cafeteria are signs to teach the students about waste and what can be composted. The students are also taught to take only the amount of food they will eat instead of too much.

"Right now we are have signage up for the ten ways to stop food waste in the servery as ways the students can help conserve their food waste and also myself and my staff speaking with the students, making announcements as they are coming thru the servery just to be conscious of just how much they are taking and how much they are throwing away and of course if they are not going to eat it maybe there is someone who can," Kooyers said.

The lunch staff is also working to eliminate waste by tracking how much food is actually consumed and only cooking the needed amount so there is less leftovers.

"We run a program here at Otsego called waste-not, it allows my kitchen staff to track their waste when it comes to unused inventory, the production of food and then the over production of food after lunch is service," Kooyers said.

This campaign does not only help eliminate waste, but the district will also be serving up healthier, organic food options for the month April.  Each Wednesday students will be able to chow down on an organic featured menu meal.

"The other thing that is great about this program it does connect us with the local farmers around the surrounding area and vendors to get in fresh produce local here in Michigan," Kooyers said. "So it allows students to see that as well and to make those choices as well."

The district is hoping that what the students learn during #OtseGoGreen will help them in the future.

"I think going through this process and experiencing Earth Month at an educational level is a good life-learning tool," Kooyers said. "It is something they can take past post high school as they go into restaurants or when they purchase their own food at the grocery store and understanding how much food to purchase and how much food to consume and not waste and that is large issue I know right now in the country that we are purchasing a lot of food and then a lot of food is getting wasted. So just the building of that environmental consciousness at a young age I think will help tremendously with these students."


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