A group of eighth-graders at ITMS formed the project "Waste Not Want Not."
A team of 10 eighth-graders at Indian Trails Middle School have joined forces to be waste warriors.
“Waste Not Want Not” was created as the students’ Community Problem Solvers project to tackle the problem of food waste from every angle — reducing waste at their school, breaking waste down without in eco-friendly methods and encouraging community businesses to make a step toward reducing their own carbon footprint.
Starting at their own school, the group created a share table in the cafeteria to not only reduce food waste, but also give their peers an opportunity to eat more at lunch, if needed.
“If kids have something on their tray for lunch that they don’t want they can put it in our bins or the cooler, if it’s milk, juice or frozen fruit,” student Madelin Sims said. “Kids who want something else can come up to the food table and take it for themselves.”
Step outside the cafeteria, walk toward the back of the school campus and one can see the beginnings stages of the construction of two greenhouses, which will have composters around them — funded by donations from local businesses.
“We’re going to actually bring some of our school’s food waste and put it inside of those and that’ll actually reduce some of the greenhouse gases that are produced from food waste in general, from landfills,” student Kevin Wolfe said.
With ITMS being home to a flagship focused on environmental sciences, the greenhouses and composters will also create more hands-on learning experiences for students, student Cameron Driggers said.
Going beyond the home of the Mustangs, the group has attended every First Friday event in Flagler Beach since September with their project board and flyers to spread awareness about food waste.
The group has partnered with about a dozen local businesses, including the Golden Lion Cafe, to have restaurants sign packs to reduce food waste in their own kitchens and donate unused food to food pantries, such as the Flagler Beach United Methodist Church food pantry, through collection efforts organized by “Waste Not Want Not.”
“By working together with these restaurants, we’ve been able to forward hundreds of dollars of food to people in need,” Cameron said.
Student Samantha Stone said the group’s idea to place donation bins at the Palm Coast Community Center and Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast has also helped collect nonperishables for food pantries.
“A large part of the project is making it more convenient for people to donate food,” Cameron said.
Student Jackson Castañeda said the group’s trip to Tallahassee proved to be a success when they received enthusiastic support from members of the Florida Board of Education.
Madelin added that one of the curriculum directors they met with at the capitol is planning to send the curriculum the group created to health teachers around the state, as well.
Student Lucy Noble noted the group’s experience participating in the Holiday at the Beach Parade in Flagler Beach and the Palm Coast Starlight Parade, which featured a float the group made with Santa Claus’ compost garden.
“Waste Not Want Not” is also creating a children’s book to help instill anti-food-waste principles in youth.
The group’s efforts won’t fade once the members go on to high school next year though, as they’re hoping to work with some seventh-graders to continue maintaining elements like the share table, the greenhouses and the composters.
Ultimately, the group just wants to help their peers and the planet.
“We should be making an effort to make sure food goes to our needs, not just in the trash,” Cameron said.
Contact the group at [email protected]