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EPA Recognizes Shawnee Mission School District and Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Kansas with Food Recovery Challenge Awards

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Ben Washburn (

Environmental News


EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Dec. 14, 2018) - Today, EPA Region 7 recognized the Shawnee Mission School District in northeast Johnson County, Kansas, and Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas, for their efforts to divert from landfills and compost food waste from school cafeterias. EPA recognized the district with a regional Food Recovery Challenge Award for 2017, and the school with a national Food Recovery Challenge Award for 2018.

“The Shawnee Mission School District is serving as a leader and demonstrating to other school districts what is possible when schools embrace sustainability,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford said. “Christa McAuliffe Elementary School is an excellent example that shows how students, staff and faculty can work together to reduce food waste. In 2017, the school diverted more than 11,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill and turned it into compost for use in school district gardens.”

Christa McAuliffe Elementary School is the only school to receive the national data-driven award for 2018. These awardees achieved the highest percent increases in their sector when comparing year-to-year data. The school composted 11,875 pounds of food waste in calendar year 2017, an increase from 5,625 pounds during the 2015-2016 school year.

EPA is part of the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, a collaboration among EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration to reduce food loss and waste through combined federal action. Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participate in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC). In 2017, FRC participants prevented or diverted almost 648,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $31.2 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.

Food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year in our daily trash. In 2015, more than 39 million tons of food waste was generated. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, our communities, and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food.

The Shawnee Mission School District is taking proactive steps to reduce the overall amount of food waste generated by working with food service providers and optimizing food service procedures.

Approximately 12 percent of America’s households have difficulty providing enough food for all their family members. The strategies used by FRC organizations, plus those implemented by individuals, communities and public-private partnerships, help to lessen these impacts and bring the United States closer to meeting the national goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

EPA works to promote innovation and highlight the value and efficient management of food as a resource. Through the sustainable management of food, we can help businesses and consumers save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations. Building on the familiar concept of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," this approach shifts the view on environmental protection and more fully recognizes the impacts of the food we waste.

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