South San Francisco, CA October 17, 2018
On September 24th, 2018 Buri Buri Elementary in South San Francisco launched a “share table” program. They were the first school in San Mateo County to launch such a program and the results have been amazing. The “share table” program allows students to put into specific colored bins unopened food they do not want to consume and allows those whom want to consume a bit more to take from the bins. In the weeks after the launch, a decrease in food waste and students whom were still hungry after eating their meal ate a bit more from the share table. We caught up with the Ana Miramon RDN-Dietitian, Nutrition Supervisor for the SSFUSD whom spearheaded the efforts and asked her a few questions:
Why was the program initiated: Our board member, Ms. Pat Murray initiated the idea during a spring 2018 board meeting. As a department we’re always looking for ways to decrease our landfill and this was a good place to start. Buri is an ideal school; just renovated, the principal and his staff were eager to participate and Mrs. Lisa Haver, our lunch manager was onboard too.
Was the process straightforward? Far from it, I had no template to work with. Currently, there are no other schools in San Mateo county participating and the San Mateo County Health Department didn’t have standards at the time. Although, the USDA program whom the school nutrition program is under did have standards, they referred us back to our county health department. The process took 6 months; countless hours researching, calling individuals and developing policies. But once, Allison Milch and her staff from the health department launched the program, we were off and running.
What was the outcome? Our students are learning to care for the environment. Buri Buri has decreased food waste by 20% thru the “share table” program and the 5th graders will be working with Ms. Melissa Moldovan, the outdoor science teacher on composing next week. The percent food waste will decrease further. Our goal is to have all elementary schools onboard by March 2019. As a department we are looking into ways to align ourselves with compostable materials to use in our food-service operations in order to conserve.
Any unexpected outcomes observed thru this launch?, Yes, we are feeding hungry kids with this program. Our students receive a lunch daily, but for some the meal is not enough or lunch is their only meal of the day, this program allows them to consume a bit more. We live in a wealthy county; where homeless, poverty and hunger coexists. Buri Buri is just doing their part in the community they serve.