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Food Recovery on the Menu for the Dracut School Committee

Sep 27, 2016 12:13PM ● By Mary Hart

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Last night’s Dracut School Committee meeting, held at the Dracut High School in the Learning Commons, focused on a number of topics, and one in particular covered how to prevent waste in the school system cafeterias.

Committee member Allison Volpe recently saw a post on Senator Barbara L'Italien Facebook page, which praised the Andover public schools for their lack of food waste. This post prompted Volpe to meet with Dracut Selectman Alison Hughes to discuss the matter, and the two went to visit an Andover school to learn more about the matter.

In Andover, the food recovery program was piloted back in 2015, and from this program, one elementary school went from having nine barrels of trash per day to just one. They now have one barrel for recycling; one to use to drain water, milk, and juice; one for food that can be recovered and given away; and one for composting.

Based on what Volpe and Selectman Hughes saw in Andover, Volpe believes it is worth investigating in Dracut to see how much the town would receive by piloting this program in both cost savings and a benefit to the environment.

Volpe admitted that there was a learning curve for kitchen staff and janitors with the implementation of the program, but Andover had parent volunteers come in to direct the elementary students to the right barrels to use. Andover also had a sustainability committee at the high school, per Volpe, where high school students helped to train the elementary and middle school students on the new program.

Regarding costs of a pilot program, Volpe stated that the initial cost up front was for the barrels, and Andover received at least one grant of $500 to use for education about the program. It was suggested that Seniors could come in to help as part of the tax abatement program.

Dracut Superintendent of Schools, Steven Stone, wants to do a task analysis and cost analysis before undertaking the food recovery pilot program in Dracut. He also wanted to ensure that anyone that came in to volunteer for the program would have a CORI in place. At the time of the meeting, Superintendent Stone did not have a timeline on when he could do the analysis, as he would need to get the Principals of the schools involved.

The Dracut School Committee members agreed that the analysis and decision does not need to be made overnight, and the discussion was left that Superintendent Stone would have a further discussion about the matter.

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