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Wasted Food or Food Waste?

Do you the know difference? Many of our students in Pierce County do!

Wasted food is food that isn’t eaten—like unopened milk, snacks and fruit.
Some school cafeterias have started offering “share boxes,” a place to put the uneaten food that often gets thrown away at lunchtime. Other schools have taken the extra step to donate wasted food to local food banks.

Food waste is usually not edible—like peels, rinds and cores.
Some classrooms have “pet” worms (worm composting bins) that will turn the scraps into valuable compost.

Photos of a share box and waste sorting

You can help, too!
One of the best ways to avoid wasting food at home is to plan some of your meals in advance.

Learn more and request a free meal planning note pad at
photo example of a meal planning note pad

What’s wet, wriggly and eats leftovers?

For Maryann Gunderson, head cook and meal planner at Hayes Child Development Center, it's not just about where food comes from, but also where it's going. She realized she had to act when she saw how much food was wasted each day at the Center. Some of the food either didn’t make it to the children’s plates or it didn’t get eaten.

8,000 red worms to the rescue.
Working with Clover Park Technical College and Pierce County Planning & Public Works, Hayes started a children’s garden and began composting their kitchen waste using red worms. The Center feels it’s especially important to teach children about the benefits of recycling and composting, so they can form environmentally-friendly habits to carry into adolescence.

The children, who range in age from two to five years old, are active participants in a waste reduction program at Hayes. Recycling is important, but Hayes is also focusing on food waste composting. Not only is it great for the environment, it is also an awesome science experiment that can help kids learn more about biology, life cycles, recycling and conservation.

Students in the school garden

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30 years and better than ever!

To celebrate our anniversary, we're sending monthly updates with stories, learning opportunities and tips for sustainable living.


We hope you enjoy seeing what's happening in your community!

Please share your feedback and ideas with us.

Learning Opportunities

Edible Gardens Workshops

The final class of 2018!
Composting Basics & Putting the Garden to Bed
November 20

Register at


Winter Eco Camp 
The environmental educators are teaching three days of fun activities, games and art centered on all things nature. Explore the natural world and breathe fresh forest air.
Ages 8–12
January 2–4, 2019
9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Learn more and register


Interested in learning more about the Puyallup River Watershed?
Find public meeting times, view maps and learn about the December 7 Puyallup Watershed Science Symposium

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love Your Leftovers
Use these tips to avoid wasted food this Thanksgiving.

Use leftovers as ingredients for future meals.
The internet abounds with recipes that use leftovers. And it’s not just turkey. Make waffles out of leftover stuffing, add cranberry sauce to a grilled cheese sandwich or to replace the jelly in a PB&J. You can also use up extra vegetables by tucking them into a turkey pot pie.

Send your guests home with a snack for later.
If you think you have more than you can eat over the next few days, pack up leftovers for your guests in reusable containers like empty yogurt and dairy tubs.

More waste reduction tips

Photo of a stuffing waffle
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