Taking a Bite Out of Lunchroom Waste in Northeast Michigan
The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan and Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative are leading "Food for Thought," a project engaging 500 youth in grades 3-12 in Northeast Michigan to reduce waste produced in school lunchrooms.
Type of Project: Prevention
Region: Great Lakes
Project Dates: September 2020 - August 2022
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan and the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative will lead efforts to engage 500 youth in Northeast Michigan. Working directly with teachers and the Michigan State University Extension, students will examine the waste they find in their communities and school, and then develop potential solutions to reduce waste and ultimately prevent marine debris.
What is the project and why is it important?
Waste from everyday activities can be a significant source of marine debris, whether at home or at school. School lunchrooms often use a large amount of single-use plastics, including lunch trays, plastic utensils, plastic bags, and straws, and litter on the school yard can be blown, swept, or washed into local waterways, the ocean, and Great Lakes.
Through this project, the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan and the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative will engage 500 youth in grades 3-12 in Northeast Michigan in reducing waste produced in their schools. Teachers and their students will begin with a shoreline cleanup in which they will evaluate the types of trash collected. Students will also carry out a scientific investigation on the lifestyle choices people make that generate marine debris, including within their own school lunchrooms. They will record the waste produced, then investigate changes their school could make to reduce lunchroom waste. Students will learn about the impact each type of waste produced in their school has on the Great Lakes environment. They will then present their findings, including the solutions they propose, to their peers, teachers, administrators, and the school board. Through their investigations, youth will become Marine Debris Prevention Ambassadors, sharing information with their families, peers, and the community to encourage other marine debris prevention efforts.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.