OVERVIEW

Make a Difference at School

Find more on each of these topics by scrolling through this page.

Prevent Food Waste Learn how you can engage your district, school administration, and students to prevent food waste and save environmental resources and money.
Test Your Knowledge Have your students test their food waste knowledge with the Save More Than Food Quiz.
Milk carton
Rescue Food Share tables and excess food donation help to divert excess food from landfills and keep your students and community fed.
Landfill Tours Educate your students on safe waste disposal and the importance of waste diversion by taking your class on a free tour of the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill. Transportation subsidies available.
Apple on top of books
Classroom Tools Prevent food waste in your school today and create great foundations for your students’ futures with classroom food waste resources for all ages.
Composting
Compost at School Learn to implement school compost programs- both with on campus school gardens or with the help of local compost partners.
Did you know? Every day, Central Ohio landfills nearly 1 million pounds of food.

Engage Your School Hang Educational Posters in Your Cafeteria

Engage students, teacher and staff with Save More Than Food by hanging posters in hallways, cafeterias, classrooms, and more.

Share the Campaign
Prevention

Prevent Food Waste in Cafeterias

Man and woman serving meals to students
Conduct a Cafeteria Food Waste Audit The U.S. EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the University of Arkansas collaborated to create a guide for students and school personnel to understand how to conduct a food waste audit, why food is being wasted, and ideas for how to use results to prevent food waste.
Bring Learning Into The Cafeteria Learn from a World Wildlife Fund national report on cafeteria food waste education and reduction efforts featuring Columbus City Schools.
Serving food
Implement “Offer versus Serve” in your Cafeteria “Offer versus Serve” (OVS) is a provision in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) that allows students to reduce their food waste at school by declining some of the food if they do not intend to eat it.

Engage Your District’s Cafeteria Food Service Provider

In many schools, external food service providers control the largest source of office food waste- the cafeteria. Reach out to your school district to see if you can work together to reach out to your food service provider to reduce food waste. Work together to decide on accomplishable goals for food waste diversion, especially when negotiating contract renewal or when seeking a new service provider.

Use this guide from the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative (IFSI) to identify new food waste reduction initiatives to discuss with your provider. Additionally, IFSI’s cost savings tip sheet can be helpful to organizations who would like to implement food waste reduction but need a financial argument for doing so.

Find Out More About “Offer versus Serve” (OVS)

Explore and research how to implement the USDA's “Offer versus Serve” (OVS), a provision in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) in your cafeteria.

Implement Food Waste Reduction Tips

There are small changes that you can make in the cafeteria to decrease food waste and ensure that every students gets the nutrients they need. Read tips from No Kid Hungry and the USDA, like sending students to recess before lunch and extending lunch periods.

Plan Zero Waste Events

Using SWACO’s Zero Waste Event Guide, learn what steps you can take to make school events and gatherings Zero-Waste.

Classroom Tools

Find classroom resources to engage any age group in food waste education. Help students appreciate the resources used to produce their food and work together to take action on reducing food waste.

SWACO’s Food Waste Classroom Resources Designed for students in 3-5th grade, SWACO’s resources include localized information about food waste in Central Ohio and help students connect classroom learning to taking action on reducing food waste.
Kids eating lunch at school
WWF’s Food Waste Warrior Curriculum The World Wildlife Fund’s food waste warrior toolkit provides lessons, activities and resources to share how what we eat and what we throw away impacts our planet by creating a classroom in the cafeteria.

All Ages: EPA’s Collected School Food Waste Activities

Find additional classroom resources from organizations and schools across the United States.

Pre-K- 2nd Grade Resources:

• Engage students with vermicomposting with this fun coloring activity from SWACO.

• Purdue Extension offers activities and lessons aimed at k-5th grade students. Topics include school gardens, understanding how much food is wasted, and connecting food waste with natural resource loss.

3rd- 5th Grade Resources

• Designed for students in 3-5th grade, SWACO’s resources include localized information about food waste in Central Ohio and helps students connect classroom learning to taking action on reducing food waste.

• Love Food Hate Waste, a new Zealand food waste education organization, offers food waste reduction lesson plans including understanding the motivation behind reducing food waste and how students can change habits to make a difference.

Middle School and High School: WWF’s Food Waste Warrior Curriculum

The World Wildlife Fund’s food waste warrior toolkit provides lessons, activities and resources to share how what we eat and what we throw away impacts our planet by creating a classroom in the cafeteria.

Universities and Higher Education: EPA Food Waste Prevention Checklist

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s checklist provides a quick-and-easy overview of how universities can make a difference by reducing their food waste.

SWACO Community Waste Reduction Grants

See the food waste reduction work happening in Hilliard City Schools and apply for funding from SWACO for food waste reduction projects in your school or school district. Since 2018, over 20 food waste reduction projects have been awarded over $250,000!

Rescue and Recovery

Simple Actions Schools Can Take

Start a Share Table SWACO’s school resources include a simple 5-step guide and signage for implementing a share table in your cafeteria. Share tables allow students to share school lunch items that they will not eat with peers who are still hungry.
Food bank volunteers
Donate Excess Food Understand the regulations around food donation by engaging your local school district administration. The USDA guidance below outlines food donation guidance for Child Nutrition Programs in schools.
Connect with Central Ohio food donation partners Local Partners can help you safely facilitate food donation with free transportation of excess food from your school’s cafeteria to local non-profits. Find links to local partners Food Rescue US and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine in the Additional Resources section below. Reach out to get started today.

Food Donation Partners

Find out more from our partners Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and Food Rescue US about helping the hungry by rescuing and donating leftover food.

USDA Share Table Guidance

Read the USDA’s statement on the use of share tables in schools and engage your local school district to learn about local guidance.

Engage Students in Food Donation

K-12 Food Rescue allows students to get involved with food donation and see the difference that they are making in their community

Farm to School

Franklin County Public Health is working to support Central Ohio schools in implementing Farm to School food sourcing to improve your school lunch nutrition and reduce farm level food waste. Learn about the program and find the resources you need to get involved.
Compost

Compost Food Waste at School

Learn to implement school compost programs- both with on campus school gardens or with the help of local compost partners.

ENGAGE YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT WITH COMPOST Some Central Ohio school districts are already working to implement garden compost programs or partnerships with local compost haulers in cafeterias.
Man in truck
CONNECT WITH LOCAL HAULERS Work with local compost haulers to implement a cafeteria compost program at your school. Find guidance on starting a compost program and find local compost partners who can help you get started by clicking on the button below.
Woman in garden
Start A School Garden Using this guidance from the USDA, collect the resources you need to start an educational school garden and compost program.

The Compost Exchange

The Compost Exchange is a local compost option that works with residents, schools, and small businesses. Reach out or explore their website to learn more about service options and pricing models.

GoZERO Services

GoZERO Compost hauling collects food scraps from a wide variety of local organizations ranging from communities and schools to small businesses and large organizations. Go to their website to learn more about their pricing model and service options.