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Onalaska student group shows reality of food waste at school, which is now looking to solve problem

Drew Kelly

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It’s a problem across the country, and the Onalaska High School is no exception.

Much of the food handed out to students in the school lunch program ends up in the trash.

After a student group conducted a study last year, Principal Jared Schaffner says they discovered how bad the problem was.

“They had students sort their food waste into different containers based on if it was compostable or not,” Schaffner said. “Our school alone produces 45 to 50 pounds a day.”

To cut down the food waste and make use of the waste it does have, the school is looking at buying a food digester.

“The machine will take compostable food waste,” Schaffner said, “and in a relatively short period turn it into compostable material that can be used in gardening and landscaping.”

Elementary schools in the district are likely producing even more waste, given some of the items that the district is forced to put on the tray.

“The things that wind up in the garbage can, are things that must be given to make it a reimbursable meal,” Schaffner said. “A lot of times it’s that vegetable or fruit.”

The district says they are educating students about trying to limit their waste.