Provided by Prince William County
The 96 schools in the Prince William County Public Schools System (PWCS) produce food waste each week, which goes into the Prince William County Landfill.
Diverting that food to the newly renovated Prince William Solid Waste Division’s Balls Ford Road Compost Facility could extend the landfill’s life.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently appropriated an $88,270.16 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Project to go toward a pilot program to divert some of the school system’s food waste to the composting facility.
The 18-month pilot program will cost $182,966.08, to include the grant. Prince William County’s share, including staff benefits and salaries is $55,728. The remaining $38,967.92 will come from the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and PWCS.
The grant funding will allow six schools to work with the VCE-Prince William to establish a system to collect and divert food waste from school kitchens, cafeterias, classrooms and events.
Starting with a pilot program will allow PWCS to figure out best practices for the program. According to Jeanne Jabara, the energy education and sustainability coordinator for PWCS, “Whether the pilot is extended or offered to the entire school division will depend on feedback from school stakeholders, the costs-benefits of the program and the PWCS administration.”
“Measuring the program for success will also depend on educational value, sustainability of the program in schools and stakeholder satisfaction. These measurements, as well as the division goals and school interest will determine if the program warrants expansion,” said Jabara.
The County Solid Waste Division will contract with PWCS to collect and transport the food waste to the composting facility. The Solid Waste Division will provide the schools with finished compost for use in existing school gardens to help students learn about ecological cycles, the environmental benefits of compost and how to apply compost to gardens.
The school system, working with VCE, will also train teachers, staff, and administrators to work toward program success.