Parent volunteer Patty Welsh collects lunch cast-offs for the composting project at Churchill School. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Education

Churchill lunchroom cast-offs become composting gold

A small composting project at Churchill School saved more than 300 pounds of waste from the landfill.

Lettuce, peaches, bread crust, left over pizza, paper napkins, cardboard – it all got collected in buckets on Wednesdays over four weeks in April and May. PTA parents and third and fourth graders who are members of the EarlyAct Club worked on the project.

Parent volunteer Patty Welsh collects lunch cast-offs for the composting project at Churchill School. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Parent volunteer Patty Welsh collects lunch cast-offs for the composting project at Churchill School. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Teacher Jeanette Nichols, who composts at home, thought it would be a good project for students. Her EarlyAct co-sponsor teacher, Karyn Lindquist, agreed, and the school’s administration gave the club permission to initiate composting.

“We thought this was a good way to instill citizenship in these young minds and have them participate in it, because it is being a good steward of the earth. We felt this would give them some experience” with composting, Nichols said.

EarlyAct, sponsored by the Rotary, works to encourage students to be caring and helpful, and to increase their awareness and knowledge of their immediate community and the world. Club members were enthusiastic about the project and learned how composting works from Adam Barker of Glad Earth in Lansing, a composting business that picks up the Churchill waste.

School lunches are meant to be nutritious meals, but they don’t necessarily appeal to students’ palates.

“They eat the things that everybody likes. They don’t eat the peaches, they don’t like the salad, or carrots and stuff,” said third grader Grayson Henry who is part of the collection brigade.

“If you take off the (salad) dressing, they’ll gladly eat it!” said third grader Nate Schwartz.

Volunteer Ashton Huff walked around the cafeteria with Grayson and Nate to collect castoffs.

 “I help by making sure the stuff goes in right,” he said. Nate said he will break down his milk carton as cardboard for composting.

To raise awareness for their efforts, EarlyAct Club members made posters and hung them near the cafeteria on Wednesdays to remind their fellow students that it was a composting day. The amount of waste increased each week of the project – from 70 to 78, 82 and 86 pounds. Nichols said that was great, but it could just be that some weeks the waste weighed more. She pointed out that apple sauce weighs less than peaches.

Overall, everyone involved was enthusiastic with the composting results, and the PTA moms are anxious to work with EarlyAct again next year to keep composting at Churchill.

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