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South Bay high school students tackle food waste

Three high schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District have started a compost, recycling and food saving program

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — It’s lunchtime here in Chula Vista, what’s on the menu? Mixed veggies, corn dogs, tamales and of course everyone’s favorite chicken sandwiches.

But not everything that lands on a student’s tray will be eaten. Perfectly good, edible food tossed in the garbage, those uneaten chicken sandwiches would eventually find their way into a landfill, decompose and create methane a harmful gas that contributes to climate change. 

Not to mention all the water, fuel and labor it took to get one of those sandwiches on a tray.

"The biggest problem we have is that we are society of throwaways," says Tina Matthias, the founder of South Bay Sustainable Communities, "In America, 40% of food that is grown is wasted." 

At Bonita Vista, Hilltop and Otay Ranch High Schools, engaged students are giving up their lunch break to sort through the many trash cans in the eating areas.

Food scraps that can be used for compost, paper and plastic that can be recycled and perfectly edible saved food that can be used to feed someone in need. In two and a half months, the three schools saved over a ton of food.

"They rescued 2,800 pounds of edible food that went back out into the community," says Matthias. "Food drives, the Salvation Army, I work with seniors."

Seeing the amount of perfectly good food, stacked high in a bin makes the problem of food waste seem very real. The climate is getting hotter and people are still going hungry- while it might only be a few high schools, it’s this generation that can learn to change their eating habits for a greener future.

WATCH RELATED: First zero-waste grocery store in San Diego opens to the public (April 2022).


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