Mt. Airy Nexus Coworking Space Raises the Bar for Sustainable Businesses

Mt. Airy Nexus Coworking Space Raises the Bar for Sustainable Businesses

Mt. Airy Nexus, a coworking space, brings a variety of businesses together with a shared value of sustainability. Founded by Max Zahniser and located in a building developed by Scott Seibert, Mt. Airy Nexus is the “sister” to Center City’s CityCoHo. According to Zahniser, “We view coworking as an instrument to bring change makers together and maximize the value of sustainability strategies, all while supporting them in a harm-free environment.”

First Graders Make a Difference with Waste Free Lunches

During the beginning of school last year, first grade students in Brooke Donovan’s class conducted a classroom waste audit. “We took a close look at the amount of trash we generated after one lunch. Students counted the number of yogurt cups, plastic forks and knives, juice boxes and other trash that we generated” she noted. “Then they discussed what they could do to reduce this waste.”

Miss Donovan and first graders share their waste free lunches

Miss Donovan and first graders share their waste free lunches

“Our first goal was “no more plastic water bottles,” as students brought in reusable cups and bottles from home. The second goal, “No tin foil.” This quickly morphed into students bringing in reusable lunch containers, utensils, and cloth napkins. After learning that Americans use millions of straws a day, they opted to “skip the straw.”

Students became excited about the changes.  “I had students coming up to me and announcing, ‘Look my mom bought me a reusable spoon!”  said Donovan.

Donovan’s efforts in the classroom extended to other areas of the lower school. This spring, Shipley’s lower school announced “Waste Free Wednesdays” as a way to start making changes. (LINK to waste free options)

Pre K, K, and first grade classes now have compost buckets for their fruits and vegetable scraps. Fifth graders pick up the classroom compost bins and take them to the compost tumblers just outside the cafeteria.

Fifth graders teach younger students about reducing waste.

Fifth graders teach younger students about reducing waste.

“There is a great connection to science,” notes Science Teacher Dan Del Duca.  “Students can see the decomposition process happening within a few weeks”

Miss Donovan adds, “I love seeing how students see that they are part of the solution to reduce waste. This then becomes second nature for them.” Just ask Shipley’s youngest students, they are happy to share their knowledge.

First graders’ organized their lunch waste into categories.

First graders’ organized their lunch waste into categories.

Rifrullo Cafe: A Sustainable Restaurant Case Study

Rifrullo Cafe: A Sustainable Restaurant Case Study

Rifrullo Cafè in Brookline, Massachusetts recently earned 3-star Certified Green Restaurant® recognition from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). In order to reach this sustainability milestone, Rifrullo owner Colleen Suhanosky took action in a range of different focus areas. In this article, we hope to expand upon Rifrullo’s practices and help other restaurants get a better idea of how they can take steps toward a smaller environmental impact as well.

Get A Charge Out of Electric Vehicles

Get A Charge Out of Electric Vehicles

If you are thinking about investing in electric vehicle charging, now may be the time. Electric vehicle use is becoming more popular across the country and there are many state government and private funding programs available - with limited time to apply! Curious to learn more? Here are answers to a few basic questions to get you started.

Derby Academy earns National Wildlife Federation Eco Schools Bronze Award

Derby Academy earns National Wildlife Federation Eco Schools Bronze Award

On the morning of April 22nd, Derby Academy students and faculty gathered to kick off Earth Week with a presentation on how to tackle today’s environmental challenges by Anne Sudduth of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants. The address then culminated in the presentation of the National Wildlife Federation Eco Schools Bronze Award to the Derby community.

Leading Sustainability by Catalyzing Cultural Change at The Shipley School

Leading Sustainability by Catalyzing Cultural Change at The Shipley School

Over 40 participants from 19 schools attended the PAISBOA Sustainability meeting at The Shipley School on April 4, 2019. The theme: “Creating Cultural Change” towards sustainability. Key highlights included a tour of the School that featured sustainability measures in its operations and infrastructure, a delicious plant-based dinner, and a presentation on cultural change.

Chestnut Hill’s Pilot Project: Green Business on the Hill

Twenty-five area business owners and community leaders attended the “How Green Is Your Business?” workshop on February 28, 2019 at Kismet. This event kicked off a pilot program — Green Business on the Hill — which aims to recognize environmentally-conscious businesses, offer tools to CHBA members who want to incorporate sustainability into their operations, and publicly position Chestnut Hill as a destination for eco-conscious consumers.

Reading High School’s Green Committee Takes a Fresh Look at its Interior Courtyard

We’ve been working on something new…

Since August 2018, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants met to organize, brainstorm, and plan -- and then organize, brainstorm and plan again, with Reading High School students, teachers and staff to develop a vision for a project that would invigorate their environmental education and school sustainability. Now it’s time for the big reveal…The Living Learning Laboratory Project. Reading High School will transform their unused school courtyard into a vibrant, biodiverse space where students can engage in hands-on STEAM learning outdoors.

The Green Committee at Reading High School believes “This project will foster a generation of citizens who are prepared to become creative and innovative leaders, to take care of their environment, and to actively participate in their community for years to come.” We think so, too!

Reading High School’s Green Committee members

Reading High School’s Green Committee members

RHS’s Green Committee of faculty and students review design drawings by Structure Green’s Ann Sellers (pictured second from left)

RHS’s Green Committee of faculty and students review design drawings by Structure Green’s Ann Sellers (pictured second from left)

A section of the existing courtyard at RHS which will be renovated into a new outdoor learning space.

A section of the existing courtyard at RHS which will be renovated into a new outdoor learning space.

Science teacher and Green Committee faculty leader, Jeannine Michel, with one of RHS’s courtyard inhabitants--Big Mamma

Science teacher and Green Committee faculty leader, Jeannine Michel, with one of RHS’s courtyard inhabitants--Big Mamma

We are so excited to work with a talented group of people: the students of the Eco Club, Faculty Green Committee Lead and Environmental Science teacher, Jeannine Michel (pictured below), landscape designer Ann Sellers, and agriculturalist Kent Himmelright of the Berks County Conservation District to make this vision possible. On April 11, the School will have a “Green Between” event from 3 to 5 pm with area community partners to raise awareness about the plans for the Courtyard. We hope to break ground late spring and during the summer. Check back in with us as this courtyard, and the Reading High School community, transform.

By Emma Schlam, Sustainability Intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, and grad student at Clark University pursuing dual degrees in Master of Business Administration and Master of Environmental Science and Policy.

Looking to Grow Your Sustainability Knowledge This Summer? Check Out These Opportunities


Fuse 19: Design Thinking for Educators – Atlanta, GA

June 5 - 7, 2019

Fuse19 exists at the intersection of business and education – it is a conference for exploring the possibilities of design thinking, the maker movement, entrepreneurship and innovation. Hosted by the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation (MVIFI) and Mount Vernon Presbyterian School (MVPS), this multi-day experience brings together leaders from education and corporate industries from around the country, with the intent to inspire transformative impact and change. Participants gain hands-on experience to build capacity as learners and leaders within their organizations and innovation teams.

Cost: $175 – $895


School Garden Teacher Training – West Sonoma County, CA

June 17 - 21, 2019

July 8 - 12, 2019

OAEC’s School Garden Teacher Training supports schools in creating and sustaining garden-based ecological literacy programs and helps build a strong cohort of colleagues.This training is designed for individuals or teams of teachers, garden educators, administrators and core parent volunteers.

Cost: $950 per participant for individuals, $900 per person for members of school teams (2+ from the same school)


Walton Sustainability Academy – Missoula, MT

June 17-21, 2019

June 24-28, 2019

July 15-19, 2019

The Walton National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy is an intensive, five-day professional development workshop for K-12 teachers held every summer. Participants receive a thorough introduction to sustainability science through hands-on activities and lectures by experts in the field. Engaging field trips highlight sustainability in action at local business and other organizations. Through ample networking opportunities, teachers become part of a dedicated community of sustainability activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and other educators.

Application deadline: March 15, 2019

Cost: $0

Each individual receives a $300 stipend for participating in the workshop. An additional $300 stipend is available after completing a project in their home school and/or district.

Project Based Learning World Conference – Napa Valley, CA

June 18 - 20, 2019

PBL World is a one-of-a-kind, multi-day event for Project Based Learning. Each year, it brings together educators - K-12 teachers, instructional coaches, and school and district leaders - who want to begin and advance their Project Based Learning practice, and connect with a community of their peers. The event is an immersive experience that actively engages participants in deep, focused, real work, in collaboration with peers.

Cost: $1,150 – $1,475

Environmental Literature Institute at Exeter – Exeter, NH

June 23 - 28, 2019

ELI is a transformative experience designed to expand thinking about environmental education and to revitalize work with students and colleagues. This week-long teacher training aims to cultivate a community of educators interested in environmentally-focused teaching and learning. It emphasizes how the methods and approaches of disciplines in the humanities can enhance environmental learning. The various workshops, speakers, and events offers rich ideas for teachers in all disciplines, including the natural and social sciences.

Cost: $1,500

Community Works Institute on Place Based Service-Learning and Sustainability – Brooklyn, NY

June 24 - 28, 2019

Participants include a diverse group of K-16 teachers and administrators, along with community based educators.

Cost: $899 – $1,289 (early registration rates available)


Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy – Shelburne, VT

July 8 - 10, 2019

Through the ten days of this program, we create a learning community exploring Education for Sustainability (EFS), systems thinking, and leadership for school transformation. We will engage participants with new ways of thinking, skills to create change and nurture themselves, and present them with innovative ideas & strategies to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future. At the heart of this work is educators and a sense of hope, love and resilience.Cost: $1,500

Photo by Phil Kahler

Photo by Phil Kahler

Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week – Bremen, MN

July 14 - 19, 2019


Learn practical approaches and add inspiration to your environmental education curriculum during this action-packed program. Hog Island Audubon’s experienced and enthusiastic instructors share their favorite approaches, methods, and activities for engaging both children and adults with nature.


Cost: $1,045 – $1,445

CELF Annual Summer Institute – Multiple Locations, NY

Westchester County, NY – July 15 - 18, 2019

New York City, NY – July 29 - 31, 2019

An intensive multi-day workshop that enables teachers to integrate the concepts of sustainability into their existing curricula. The Institute equips K-12 teachers with practices and teaching methods to address the core concepts of EfS – the intersection of social, economic, and ecological systems – and how the balance of those three systems is vital to a sustainable future, and relevant to all subject areas.

Cost: Westchester County, $550 per person ($500 per person for school teams of 3 or more participants)

New York City, $500 per person ($450 per person for school teams of 3 or more participants)

Education for Sustainability: Summer Institute – Shelburne, VT

July 22 - 26, 2019

This week is part conference, part workshop, part retreat. Designed to be dynamic and democratic, the Institute offers teachers the time and space to develop projects of personal interest while providing opportunities to learn from colleagues and other leaders in field of Education for Sustainability. Interactive sessions will feature a blend of individual work time, peer-to-peer feedback, resource sharing, hands-on learning experiences, and large and small group discussions.

Cost: $60

Photo By Jaime Amling

Photo By Jaime Amling

Colorado Rockies Alpine Backpacking for Educators – Colorado

July 28 - Aug 4, 2019

This eight-day wilderness experience is designed to give primary, secondary, and college educators an introduction to the Outward Bound model of experiential education.

Cost: $1,895


Adult Courses and Outdoor Adventures at the College of the Atlantic

Field Botany: Plants of New England - July 28 - August 10, 2019

From Capture to Print: Digital Photography and Photoshop - July 28 - Aug 3, 2019

Plein-Air Watercolor Painting with Rob Finn - August 4-10, 2019

Our goal is to educate and inspire life-long learners through “hands-on” experiential learning by offering programs that appeal to both new and our ever-growing list of returning participants. Learning will include on-campus studio or lab work, informal discussions or lectures, and field trips out and about in Mount Desert Island’s picturesque Acadia National Park and the outer islands of Frenchman Bay.

Cost: Varied

Summer Curriculum Design Studio: Education for a Sustainable Future – Rhinebeck, NY

Aug. 5 - 9,2019

An immersive Introduction to Education for Sustainability (EfS) over the weekend and 5 Days of Curriculum Design and Coaching. Gain access to expertise, resources and tools required to design elegant curricula for use in the classroom, protocols for professional  development, or action plans designed to implement EfS change initiatives in schools and communities. Onsite lodging and meals optional.

Cost: $445 for members, $495 for non-members

Updated as of March 8, 2019

Compiled by Maryana Dumalska, Sustainability Intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, and a junior at Boston College studying Environmental Geosciences and Economics.

Schools, Climate Change & Solutions: Sustainability Group at Ancillae-Assumpta

Schools, Climate Change & Solutions: Sustainability Group at Ancillae-Assumpta

Thirty-three participants from 17 schools attended PAISBOA’s Sustainability Group meeting at Ancillae-Assumpta Academy on January 15, 2019; the topic: Schools, Climate Change & Solutions. Climate Reality Leadership Corps member and Haverford College’s Vice President & Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle gave a solutions-oriented presentation on climate change.

National Recognition Drives Excellence in Green Schools

Sharing Sustainability Success in Schools

Students at APS Discovery Elementary observe energy use on a display screen. (Photo from the Green Schools National Network.)

Students at APS Discovery Elementary observe energy use on a display screen. (Photo from the Green Schools National Network.)

Last year, the Arlington Public School District (APS) in Massachusetts was one of fifty-eight primary, secondary, and postsecondary schools and school districts to receive national recognition for efforts and achievements in sustainability. Over the course of several years APS invested in improving energy efficiencies by installing solar panels, new natural gas boilers, LED lighting, and energy management systems, among other operational improvements (APS ED-GRS application, 2017). Students and faculty can be found composting, diverting 122,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill each year. Students also have the opportunity to learn about environmental science, energy efficiency and sustainability through recycling and composting programs as well as interactive tools that display energy use and savings.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a 2012 Green Ribbon School from Pennsylvania, uses bulletin boards to raise awareness of the school’s zero waste efforts.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a 2012 Green Ribbon School from Pennsylvania, uses bulletin boards to raise awareness of the school’s zero waste efforts.

Through these diligent efforts APS was able to earn the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Award. Considered the top honor for green schools, DOE grants ED-GRS awards every year in conjunction Earth Day celebrations. The goal? Inspiration and resource-sharing. “The ED-GRS award was very meaningful,” says Arlington Public Schools Sustainability Coordinator, Rachel Oliveri, “it not only gave us state and national recognition but also led many other communities to reach out and learn from us and exchange ideas.” In a press release after receiving the 2018 award, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said, “it’s such an honor to be cited on the national level for our efforts and to educate students who see themselves as powerful change makers.”

Developing minds are a distinct target for initiating change, promoting sustainable innovation, and spreading awareness. More than a quarter of the U.S. population is school-aged (0-25), most of whom spend significant portions of their day in educational institutions (and more, if you include faculty and staff) (KFF, 2016). Thus, educational institutions have become exemplars and boiling pots of sustainable transformation. Through efficiency improvements, recycling, composting and other waste-reduction programs along with numerous environmental education opportunities, schools across the country are taking steps (both big and little) towards a more sustainable future for generations to come. ED-GRS awards work as a catalyst to improve infrastructure, experience, and opportunity in schools nationwide by amplifying sustainability success stories and sharing best practices. Green schools “teach students how to lead a changing world, and they support student understanding by modeling sustainable behavior through green operations and building practices” (Center for Green Schools, 2018).

Every year each state can nominate up to six schools and/or districts for consideration by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools that qualify as “green” must demonstrate progress in three main areas, or “pillars” (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2018):

DOE Green Ribbon Schools three pillars.

DOE Green Ribbon Schools three pillars.

Pillar 1: Reduce environmental impacts and operational costs

Schools with more energy efficient operations spend less on utility costs and are better able to channel resources to education.

Pillar 2: Improve health and wellness

Schools with healthy environments allow students, faculty, and staff to flourish.

Pillar 3: Provide effective environmental and sustainability education

Schools that offer exceptional educational opportunities in hands-on cross-departmental environmental learning (especially STEM and green careers) foster student engagement, civic skills and leadership.

Wendy Turner, teacher and Green Team leader, at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School, a 2015 Green Ribbon Award winner and participant in Green Building United’s Delaware Pathways to Green Schools program.

Wendy Turner, teacher and Green Team leader, at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School, a 2015 Green Ribbon Award winner and participant in Green Building United’s Delaware Pathways to Green Schools program.

The program has “made a significant impact on the green schools movement,” says ED-GRS Director, Andrea Falken. The DOE now has “an unprecedented platform to address school facilities, health, and environment.” Falken believes in the program’s unique ability to foster collaboration. ED-GRS and it’s affiliated resource-sharing tools have worked to spread awareness of the many free programs that organizations such as NOAA, EPA, and U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Energy offer. The program has also enabled collaborations across the for- and non-profit private sectors, Falken says.

While the award itself is strictly non-monetary, the program fosters a funding culture that values and strives for excellence in sustainability. Many states have adopted funding programs specific to sustainability improvement projects, such as Green Building United’s Delaware Pathways to Green Schools Program, which offers mini grants and other resources to promote sustainability improvements in schools. Other states have incorporated sustainability standards and requirements into their existing funding programs for capital improvement projects. In Massachusetts, the School Building Authority (MSBA), which provides funds for most major building projects, sets baseline sustainability standards and provides incentives for going beyond those standards (MSBA, 2011). Matthew Deninger, who works for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, serves on the MSBA board, and is the Massachusetts coordinator for ED-GRS, believes that the ED-GRS award program and MSBA funding requirements complement each other quite effectively. “The MSBA baseline standards are pretty high,” Deninger says, “so any school that does a major remodel or new construction project that is funded by MSBA is required to meet those standards. Schools can also opt-in to higher sustainability standards such as LEED-S or NE-CHIPS and gain additional reimbursement points.”

Massachusetts (and many other states) have also used the application process for ED-GRS awards as a means to recognize sustainability efforts big and small within their state. “Even if a school doesn’t quite make it to consideration on the national level, we recognize state finalists and sustained excellence at schools that have already been recognized in past years,” Deninger says. “There’s a tremendous amount of work happening by teachers and students who go above and beyond,” he says, “it’s the least we can do to recognize their efforts.”

Has your school made significant progress on its sustainability goals? If so, you may want to consider applying to be nominated by your state for the ED-GRS award. Application deadlines are approaching - be sure to allow plenty of time for this prestigious application process. Information for all states can be found here or you can follow the links for select states below:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education ED-GRS application:

    • Due January 4, 2019

  • Massachusetts Department of Education ED-GRS application:

    • Due January 11, 2019

  • Delaware Green Building United Green Schools Program:

    • Rolling application

Want to make improvements in the three pillar areas at your school? BSEC has experience empowering and guiding schools through the development and implementation of sustainability strategic plans and programs. Contact us for a free phone consult!

You can find more information on the national ED-GRS program here. DOE’s Green Strides platform also offers a user-friendly pool of resources, funding and collaboration opportunities. You can also contact your state ED-GRS coordinator for more information.

Article submitted by Avery Wolfe a recent graduate of Bates College and intern with Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

Turning Food Waste into Food Recovery at School

In the United States, food waste is a growing problem. Currently, about 40 percent of food is thrown away without any effort to divert it from the landfill. By weight, 63 million tons of food are wasted in the US alone every year. Not only is this behavior a gross misuse of food, but growing, processing, and transporting food is a major draw on resources. Food waste alone consumes 21 percent of all freshwater, 21 percent of landfill volume, and 19 percent of cropland (ReFED, 2018). The energy the US wastes on discarded food in a year is about twice as much energy Switzerland uses in a year (Webber, 2010) . Meanwhile, one in seven Americans are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food (USDA, 2017).  Due to the scale of this problem, the EPA has created a Food Recovery Hierarchy, a comprehensive graphic that outlines preferred food recovery techniques, with feeding hungry people and source reduction being the best practices.

Of the $218 billion worth of food wasted every year in the US, $1.2 billion is from school lunches (Bloom, 2016). In a study of four Boston schools, 26.1% of the food budget was thrown away by middle school students annually, not including the extra food that was never served (Cohen, 2013). While school lunch waste makes up a fraction of the wasted food in the US, it is an imperative problem to address. The K-12 educational system is an incredibly important piece of the American society, for it shapes the minds of its young generations. What these students learn in school can develop their passions, their habits, and their understanding of the world-- including the problems it faces. Allowing such waste in the school system teaches children that food is garbage, disposable and of little value. The USDA has introduced the Food Waste Challenge, a food waste reduction challenge for schools to participate in. Some schools have taken major steps towards reducing food waste and making students apart of the process so they can continue the legacy.

How You Can Have a Role in Change

Addressing food waste is a new and growing issue, but school administration can often be too busy to tackle the problem. So, it is often up to inspired community members to spark the change they would like to see. Wellesley, Massachusetts has an exemplary food waste reduction system, with programs including food share tables in elementary schools and a food donation system. These food recovery efforts began with a few concerned parents, teachers, and a motivated Food Service Director. From that grassroots beginning, food recovery projects have sprouted up in all K-12 schools in the Wellesley school district.

In the elementary schools, one parent took a special interest in food waste and was able to spark interest amongst fellow parents. With the help of custodians and the Bates Elementary School principal, they began looking into how to reduce consumer waste with their young students. To start, an experiment was conducted to discover what exactly was being thrown away by examining their waste. After this initial waste audit, Matt Delaney, the school’s Food Service Director from Whitsons Culinary Group, jumped on board. Three important steps were then taken:

  1. Food services cut back on the food that was not being sold.

  2. Kitchen staff went through a training process on how to package food eligible for donation.

  3. Food that was not being sold or even put out was packaged up and taken by volunteers to food pantries.

Today, excess prepared food is frozen and then picked up by Food for Free, a food rescue organization, every two weeks and taken to nonprofits in need of food. Since then, Mr. Delaney has made great efforts to tailor meals and portions so that food waste is minimized. Future goals include expanding the school’s reusable “green” food container supply and introducing food waste composting to all cafeterias.

Green Containers used by Wellesley Public Schools. Source: Matt Delaney, Whitsons Culinary Group

Green Containers used by Wellesley Public Schools. Source: Matt Delaney, Whitsons Culinary Group

After learning that the school was throwing away edible food in the initial student led waste audit, Bates Elementary School began a “share table.” Share tables (often found in elementary schools) are areas where students can leave their unopened food so that it can be redistributed. At Bates, students leave their unopened food on a specific table after lunch so it can be redirected to students in the after school program, teachers, and town departments such as Public Works. The program has been expanded to a few other Wellesley elementary schools.

In Wellesley elementary schools, parents and the Food Service Director played key roles in inspiring and implementing the food rescue program. A hope for the future in middle and high schools is that students may be inspired to address food waste and go beyond food donations and share tables. For example, students can examine why it is important to conserve food and understand the causes of the food waste challenge in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a goal of reducing food waste by half by 2030 (EPA, 2015). Consumer education will be a big part of reaching this goal. At schools, students can learn strategies for prevention, recovery and recycling of food waste. From “right sizing” portions to properly disposing of plate waste or “leftovers,” lessons about reducing and managing food waste. While curriculum is often slow to change, teachers who want to teach about food waste can work with motivated students to take the initiative to educate themselves and their peers. The links below offer some helpful suggestions for getting started.

In colleges, students often make this push. An organization called the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) provides resources to college students who are seeking guidance in changing the food systems at their schools. Campus Coordinators work with individual students or environmental student groups to implement waste reduction techniques such as changing portion sizes, removing trays, implementing compost, and donating unserved food.  Even these students have trouble making change in consumer behavior, possibly because older students are more prone to sticking to habits. If behavioral change can be introduced at younger ages, there’s far more potential for lasting differences in how people consume their food.                                                 

How to Start Food Sharing and Donations at Your School

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Guide to Share Tables

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Guide to Share Tables

Fortunately, the Federal Government protects donors of food through the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, which encourages donations of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations. The Act encourages donations by stating that legally, a person shall or gleaner not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals” (US Cong. 104-201). Although the federal government may encourage food donations, each state and school district has different policies as to how share tables and food donations should function,  if they are allowed at all. The website Food Rescue has a history of State Policy on food waste in schools, which is important to know when attempting to start a share table of your own. Some schools donate unserved prepared food by donating it to a food rescue that will distribute it to a nonprofit serving those need. Once state and local allowance is confirmed, local board of health approval is also necessary.

Other key players to work with are the food service department, custodians, and administration. Food sharing, donating, and conservation cannot be done without the help of these departments who monitor different aspects food services. Creating collaborative relationships with these people are required to the functioning of any food rescue, share, or compost operation.

Thank you Matt Delaney of Whitsons Culinary Group, Phyllis Theermann of Sustainable Wellesley, and Adina Spertus of Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN).

Written by Meggie Devlin, Intern, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants LLC.
August 7, 2018

Resources for Minimizing Food Waste at your School

Federal Guidelines on the Good Samaritan Act:
Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996

LL.M Program in Agricultural & Food Law at the University of Arkansas Legal Guide to Food Recovery Laws:

ReFED Guide to State Laws on Food Recovery

Guide to State Laws on Food Rescue in Schools


Bloom, J. (2016). Schooling Food Waste: How Schools Can Teach Kids to Value Food. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from Food Tank website: d-waste-how-schools-can-teach-kids-to-value-food/

Cohen, J., Richardson, S., Austin, S., Economos, C., & Rimm, E. (2013). School lunch waste among middle school students: nutrients consumed and costs. PubMed, 44(2).

Cuellar, A., Webber, E. (2010). Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: The Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology. 2010 44 (16), 6464-6469.

Food Security in the US: Measurement. (2017, October 4). In USDA: Economic Research Service. Retrieved August 7, 2018, from

The Multi-Billion Dollar Food Waste Problem. (2018). Retrieved August 7, 2018, from ReFED website:

United States, Congress, Senate. Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Government Printing Office, 1996. 104th Congress, Senate Bill 104-210.

United States 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal. (2015). In United States EPA. Retrieved from waste-reduction-goaf

Celebrate Your School’s Sustainability Success

Celebrate Your School’s Sustainability Success

Has your school made significant progress on its sustainability goals through reduced environmental impact, improved health and wellness, and increased environmental literacy? If so, consider applying for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School Award. This national award, considered the top honor for green schools, celebrates and recognizes schools that have achieved excellence in sustainability.