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How Can School Sustainability Programs Survive COVID?
Tue 18 Aug, 2020 08:30–10:00, Room 2add to calendar
PRESENTATION TOPIC
SCHOOLS
Session Description

Last March schools everywhere were thrown for a loop because of COVID. In California school districts throughout the State closed campuses for in-person instruction. Governor Newsom’s Executive Order in July extends that closure until the County where the school is located is off of the state monitoring list. Currently the majority of California’s counties are on this list.

Dismissing students from in-person instruction did not mean that the school staff have gone dormant. Teachers had to quickly adapt to new technologies for distance learning, school nutrition staff have continued to provide meals for students, and facilities staff are maintaining school properties and making plans for how to ensure the health and safety of students when they can return. Though the sustainability programs for many of these schools were interrupted by COVID and some elements of these programs may not be achievable while the pandemic exists, these departments still have sustainability on their minds and are trying to make the best of a very bad situation. The speakers on this panel will discuss the sustainability programs they had in place prior to COVID, how in some cases these programs can be adapted and continued when in-person instruction begins again or if that isn’t possible, how they are incorporating sustainability into their new practices.

Speakers
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Janet Whited, San Diego Unified School District
Title:
Environmental Specialist
Speaker Biography:

Janet Whited is an Environmental Specialist for San Diego Unified School District and is on a mission to help students, teachers, and staff reduce waste, help the environment, help the community, and save money.  Her focus is to engage the entire SDUSD family in developing an overall sustainability mindset that will assist the District in reaching their Climate Action Plan goals. To this end, she develops and implements programs to expand recycling and composting opportunities within the district, conducts environmental education and outreach, and assists in the coordination of the district’s edible food reduction, recovery and rescue program at over 180 schools and district facilities.   She has worked for the district in this capacity for over ten years and previously worked at the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department coordinating residential and commercial recycling programs.

Abstract Title:
Breakfast in the Classroom
Speaker Abstract:

Studies have shown that one in six children in public schools on average may not get enough to eat. Studies have also shown that with good nutrition students are better learners. To combat child hunger and food insecurity schools across the country offer Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC). How breakfast gets to the classroom varies, sometimes students grab it on their way into school, sometimes it is delivered. However the one constant is the amount of food and packaging waste generated in the classroom.


At San Diego USD a really awesome custodian considered this problem and established a system to collect the waste and recyclables from the BIC program. Working with the District’s Recycling Specialist to fine tune his idea, the District purchased equipment that is inexpensive and readily available. In short after breakfast designated students from each classroom wheel the trash and recyclables generated at breakfast to a central location where the custodian can consolidate and move the material to either the recycling bin or trash. This innovative recycling program includes student participation and is not dependent on teachers or custodial staff. This program can easily be adapted for all classroom dining once in-person instruction is allowed. With appropriate social distancing when returning the bins to the central location students can still participate in recycling activities and the school does not have to abandon their commitment to sustainable practices.


Though schools in San Diego USD will open August 31 because San Diego County remains on the Governor’s monitoring list instruction will be distance learning only. However when students do return to campus for in-person instruction

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Duane Beebe, Harmony Elementary School
Title:
Lead Custodian
Speaker Biography:

Duane Beebe is the current Lead Custodian at Harmony Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington’s Evergreen School District.  An employee of American Building Maintenance, Duane’s responsibilities are to maintain the Safety and Health of the school.  Overseeing aspects of daily sanitization and smooth operation are key factors in the success of the school. He is a former employee of the high tech profession and has applied such knowledge to the school’s meal programs.  Serving with a focus on early habit forming skills at the kindergarten level to 5th grade has been a process that has yielded great results.  With the team effort learned from previous jobs he has enabled kids to have a win-win mentality in ownership of the school and their practices. 

Abstract Title:
Meals in the Classroom at Harmony Elementary
Speaker Abstract:

Harmony Elementary School is one of 37 schools in the Evergreen School District located in Vancouver, Washington with an enrollment of approximately 700 students in grades K-5. As like most schools in the U.S they are opening school this year with distance learning only. However when they can return to in-person instruction they will be uniquely prepared to continue their terrific recycling program.


Prior to COVID many of their students ate lunch in their classrooms due to having a very small cafeteria. Despite eating in the classrooms these students recycled their lunch waste just like their classmates who ate in the cafeteria by using sort stations located outside the classrooms.


One of the many models discussed for how to ensure social distancing between students when in-person instruction begins is requiring classroom dining. Both breakfast and lunch will be served in the classroom. How will meals get to those classrooms and how will the recyclable materials that are generated be collected? The lessons learned from the program at Harmony Elementary will help answer those questions.

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Erin Primer, San Luis Coastal USD
Title:
Food & Nutrition Services Director
Speaker Biography:

Erin Primer is the Director of Food & Nutrition Services at San Luis Coastal Unified. She brings over 15 years of experience in the food service industry, ranging from high quality catering to healthcare, universities and school food service. With two young children of her own, she is passionate about providing students with quality food options and ensuring a healthy school environment. She constantly tests new recipes that fit dietary needs while managing to establish food contracts with local farmers and vendors. Erin believes in teaching youth about our food system and engaging them in delicious and healthy meal options! 

Abstract Title:
Will COVID Derail School & Cafeteria Program Processes?
Speaker Abstract:

Last March school nutrition directors throughout the US did a very quick pivot and within days went from serving breakfast and lunch onsite to their students and instead served meals through mobile curbside pick-up. The importance of this action cannot be understated. According to a 2019 report from California Food Policy Advocates two million California children live in low-income households affected by food insecurity. For many students school breakfast and lunch may be their only consistent food source. School nutrition directors knew the importance of keeping their students fed.


Prior to COVID the school nutrition industry, particularly in California, was making progress on moving away from pre-packaged processed food and incorporating high-quality, healthy, freshly prepared school food into student meals. Many school nutrition directors were partnering with local fruit and vegetable growers to supply their kitchens and many were also implementing programs to reduce food waste, packaging waste and recycle cafeteria waste. Unfortunately COVID threatens to derail this progress by requiring packaged meals in order to maintain safety. School nutrition directors are rising to this new challenge and finding ways to still serve healthy, sustainable meals while minimizing packaging and meeting the grueling standards of federal and state regulations no matter if they are sending meals home to students or planning for the day when in-person instruction resumes and students may be eating in classrooms.

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Vince Caguin
Title:
Executive Director of Nutrition Services & Warehousing
Speaker Biography:

Vince is the Executive Director of Nutrition Services & Warehousing for Natomas USD.  With over 20 years of experience in the food service industry including 8 years as Department Chair of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, Vince has merged his background in culinary arts, nutrition, education and business operations to bring delicious meals to the students of Natomas USD.  As the Executive Director since 2012 Vince embraced many sustainablity programs including California Thursday, a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food.

Abstract Title:
Will COVID Derail School & Cafeteria Program Processes?
Speaker Abstract:

Last March school nutrition directors throughout the US did a very quick pivot and within days went from serving breakfast and lunch onsite to their students and instead served meals through mobile curbside pick-up. The importance of this action cannot be understated. According to a 2019 report from California Food Policy Advocates two million California children live in low-income households affected by food insecurity. For many students school breakfast and lunch may be their only consistent food source. School nutrition directors knew the importance of keeping their students fed.


Prior to COVID the school nutrition industry, particularly in California, was making progress on moving away from pre-packaged processed food and incorporating high-quality, healthy, freshly prepared school food into student meals. Many school nutrition directors were partnering with local fruit and vegetable growers to supply their kitchens and many were also implementing programs to reduce food waste, packaging waste and recycle cafeteria waste. Unfortunately COVID threatens to derail this progress by requiring packaged meals in order to maintain safety. School nutrition directors are rising to this new challenge and finding ways to still serve healthy, sustainable meals while minimizing packaging and meeting the grueling standards of federal and state regulations no matter if they are sending meals home to students or planning for the day when in-person instruction resumes and students may be eating in classrooms.

Moderator
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Debbi Dodson
Title:
Recycling Coordinator