Schools Chunk Tons of Wasted Food During Winter Closures

by Jennifer Joyner ([email protected]) 63 views 

An excessive number of weather-related school closures this winter has put a strain on local districts.

The schools are scrambling to make up missed days, and revised calendars in most Northwest Arkansas districts include Saturday school days and final days that go well into what was supposed to be summer vacation.

While representatives from several area districts reported little loss during the closures and say revenue will be compensated for during makeup days, the Bentonville School District is less confident. Bentonville schools generated about 1,000 pounds of food waste during the December winter storm, when students, faculty and staff were out for a full week, said Robert Ginder, general manager of nutrition services. 

The schools’ kitchens threw out 200 pounds during the January storm and 300 in the February storm, Ginder said.

However, for Bentonville schools, the biggest impact came during the days following the shutdowns, when cafeterias prepared more food than was necessary, as meal counts declined substantially for various reasons.

For example, Dec. 12, the first day back from the storm, the district threw away more than 3,000 pounds of food from the front-of-house, which includes the cafeteria trashcans and food from the line that didn’t get eaten, Ginder said. The next day, the waste amount still exceeded the average by 700 pounds.