Food Waste Reduction


BVSD has an ambitious sustainability plan, outlining a “green” mission and long-term goals including zero waste goals and sustainable purchasing practices. In order to align with this vision, Food Services has made significant improvements to its daily operations. We have moved to reusable trays, cups and silverware in all school cafeterias; purchasing organic milk in bulk containers; introducing reusable plastic containers (RPCs) for the delivery of local produce, chicken and beef products; and supporting comprehensive recycling and composting programs in all school cafeterias.

The goal of food waste reduction in Food Services was inspired, in part, by the Food Waste Club at BVSD's Douglass Elementary, which recently received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's President's Environmental Youth Award. The club was formed to raise awareness about food waste and to decrease the amount of food discarded each day at school. The club assessed the waste created in the cafeteria during lunchtime, made a series of posters to educate students about food waste and took the message a step further by producing a video to share with their school community.

​“Food waste is a really big problem. Every day Americans waste enough food to fill a football stadium. We could do a lot better.”

Annalise Myatt, Douglass Elementary School fifth grader

The efforts at Douglass Elementary were so inspiring that the concept is expanding throughout BVSD's School Food Project. Learn more about some of our food waste reduction efforts below.


Leanpath 360FS

As a sustainability leader within the school district and the larger community, BVSD Food Services is continuously looking to improve our sustainability efforts through innovative and award-winning solutions. We prepare nearly 13,000 meals per day in three production kitchens. Our scratch-cooking model means that we use locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible, and we avoid highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, dyes and food additives. Salad bars are offered daily at every school and are stocked with fresh, delicious and when possible, local farm fresh produce.

As such, we receive, process and cook hundreds of pounds of meal ingredients daily. We have an important opportunity to more closely monitor food preparation, reduce food waste, and improve food costs. We successfully installed LeanPath food waste tracking systems in our three production kitchens during the summer of 2017 and began tracking in one satellite kitchen and four school cafeterias in 2018. The district is now home to 11 LeanPath systems, tracking both pre- and post-consumer waste in various parts of our operation and providing real-time feedback to those generating the waste.

This equipment will provide data about what is being composted in the district’s kitchens and cafeteria, which all together prepare and serve nearly 13,000 scratch-cooked meals daily. From trimmings to overproduction, Food Services will have a better idea of where food is being wasted and how to make improvements in waste reduction at every part of the production process. These program improvements will allow us to reinvest the cost savings into our procurement efforts and offer still higher quality school meals to our 31,000 students. 

BVSD Food Services received a $10,000 grant from Boulder County Resource Conservation Division’s Zero Waste funding program in 2017, $24,000 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity mini-grant program in 2018, and an additional $9,400 from Boulder County Resource Conservation Division’s Zero Waste funding program in 2019 to install food waste tracking systems from LeanPath

Food Waste Warriors

Meadowlark food waste audit

In spring 2019, BVSD conducted a comprehensive food waste study at five schools.  The School Food Project received a grant from the World Wildlife Fund to be one of the first districts in the country to collect data about how much food is thrown out in school cafeterias, with the aim of reducing this food waste.

A food study takes place over six different school lunch periods during the semester. Students and teachers help them sort waste into eight different categories, before weighing and disposing of the compost, recycling and landfill. The data gives insights into how much food is wasted and can be used to implement further math, science, communications and art projects to help reduce food waste within their school building.

Be a Food Waste Warrior

“Be a Food Waste Warrior” is a three-part science and math lesson from the World Wildlife Fund that can be adjusted in complexity depending on grade level. (It was created for grades 5-12, but more advanced classes in grades 3 and 4 could handle it, too.) The toolkit includes food waste audit log sheets, discussion questions, a companion PowerPoint, and additional teacher resources and materials. 

Students will learn about the ways in which food impacts the environment by recording data from a student food waste audit during their lunch period. The audit will engage basic science and math skills to (1) convert food waste weights to water used and GHGs emitted, and (2) calculate the difference in GHG emissions depending on whether food waste is landfilled or composted. Participating students will ultimately understand how to reduce food waste and why reducing food waste is important to conserving natural resources and wildlife habitat.

Project Goals:

  1. Conduct food waste audits to contribute to the first complete dataset of cafeteria food waste in the country.

  2. Identify any food waste behavior changes among students between the first and follow-up food waste audits as a result of the in-class lessons.

  3. Develop lesson plans to contribute to an expanded Food Waste Warriors toolkit.

Food Waste Warriors FOSS Kit

BVSD teachers interested in conducting food waste audits with their students can check out the Food Waste Warriors FOSS Kit. Contact Laura for more information.

Food Waste Awareness Week

The School Food Project is a partner for Boulder County's second annual Food Waste Awareness Week (Sept. 9-15, 2019). Learn more on the event website.

Panel Discussion: Values and Insights on the Local Fight Against Food Waste

Monday, September 9th, 6pm-7pm @ The Post

Join us for a panel discussion with four amazing Boulder nonprofits - Uproot Colorado, Boulder Food Rescue, EcoCycle, and the Boulder Jewish Community Center to explore the values that drive these organizations and the complex issues they are tackling. We will learn what they are working towards and how their work goes far beyond reducing food surplus and waste.

Location: The Post Brewing,  2027 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302

Time: 6pm-7pm

Cost: Free - Must Register

Register Here


Dave Laskarzewski - Uproot Colorado

Lindsey Loberg - Boulder Food Rescue

Dan Matsch - EcoCycle

Sara Guttman - Boulder Jewish Community Center

Farmer Roundtable on Values and Food

Wednesday, September 11th, 5:30-7pm @ Dushanbe Tea House Patio

Attending the Boulder Farmers Market Wednesday? Come on over to the Dushanbe patio to hear from local farmers and agriculture reps. We’ll be talking about the values that drive local farmers, the issues they face in achieving their visions, and how they’re tackling the issues of food surplus and waste. Come with lots of questions!

Location: Dushanbe North Patio - Near Boulder Farmers Market

Time: Come and go anytime between 5:30pm and 7pm

Cost: Free

Speakers: Local Farmers

Tour of Community Food Share Food Bank

Thursday, September 12th, 4:00pm-5:00pm

In celebration of Boulder County's Food Waste Awareness Week, join us for a tour of Community Food Share, a non-profit food bank that serves Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Community Food Share rescues 11 tons of food a day. The food bank prevents safe, surplus food from going to waste so that it can instead help nourish those struggling with hunger. See firsthand how their team of staff and volunteers distributes 10 million pounds of food a year to residents in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Please RSVP. Can’t make the date? Schedule a tour at your convenience by visiting

Location: 650 S Taylor Ave, Louisville, CO 80027

Time: 4-5pm

Cost: Free

Register Here

Keynote Event - Talking Food Waste: Moving the Conversation Forward

Friday, September 13th, 5:00pm-8:30pm @ SEEC Auditorium C120

We have known for many years that food waste is an important social, economic, and environmental issue. In that time, we have made great strides in research, public education, and policy. So what’s next? Are we heading down the right path? We’re bringing in food waste and surplus experts to redefine and explore the future of this increasingly important issue. Afterward, join us for a networking event with light refreshments.

Location: SEEC Auditorium, 4001 Discovery Dr, Boulder, CO 80303

Time: 5pm-8:30pm

Cost: Free - must register

Register Here



Dana Gunders - National Food Waste Expert and Author

Robert Egger - Founder of LA Kitchen

Nicole Civita - Food Ethicist and Food Systems Professor

Ashley Zanolli - EPA Materials Management/Food Waste Specialist

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