Composting binA large white garbage truck pulled up to Howard L. Goff Middle School on Tuesday, but it wasn’t there to collect trash and haul it to a landfill. Instead, it collected two large bins filled with food scraps as part of the school’s new Composting Project.

Goff began composting over the past two weeks with students scraping leftover food on their lunch trays into a composting bin beside the trash can. During that time, 320 pounds of food scraps were collected. The scraps were dumped into a FoodScraps360 truck and then brought to the Town of Bethlehem’s Commercial Composting Facility where it will be transformed into compost. 

Composting is a controlled process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil through decomposition, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It aids agriculture and landscapers by providing compost as fertilizer, but it also has environmental benefits, lowering greenhouse gases by “preventing methane emissions.”

The Composting Project began as an idea in the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and then became a Participation in Government project submitted by Columbia High School seniors this past school year. Those students included Kaiden Ring ’22, Jalena Kirkorian ’22, Maddie Hoffman ’22, Bella Condo ’22 and Faith Webb ’22.

“I am so excited to see a student-created public policy action plan put into place in our district,” said Participation in Government teacher Kelley Sheraw. “This shows kids that they can create and make change in our society.”

Now that the project has become a reality, Goff Middle School students are getting involved.

Students in Goff’s Garden Club and DOME Club (Defenders of Mother Earth) created an instructional video for their classmates on how to compost. They are also assisting in the cafeteria during lunch periods.

Colleen Wise, the Food Service Manager who is helping with the project, said there are plans to add composting at Columbia High School later this winter.

“Food waste is a common challenge for school meal programs,” Mrs. Wise said. “We are excited to partner with FoodScraps360 to implement a composting program that will turn our food waste into a valuable resource. It’s encouraging to see our students engaging in the process and making a positive impact on the environment.”

Special thanks to the Food Services Department, Goff Maintenance staff and students in the Garden Club and DOME Club for collaborating on this project!