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Waste Reduction
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True Food, No Waste

True Food, No Waste

Recycling at school can inspire students to care about the planet, understand where our resources come from, and examine the downstream impacts of our waste systems. Learning these lifelong skills at a young age will ensure that these basics will become a custom and taught to the generations to come.

Our goal with the True Food, No Waste initiative is to improve waste reduction in cafeterias by making internal changes to our operations and provide schools with adequate resources to educate and engage students on waste reduction, recycling, and composting. In 2019 CWS launched the 3 year True Food, No Waste action plan to reduce food waste in our cafeterias. In the past few years, schools have implemented waste sorting stations, improved share tables, and empowered student Green Teams. In addition, 80% of our schools are equipped with on-site kitchens, which have allowed us to drastically reduce our waste from pre-packaged foods while serving our students nutritious meals cooked from scratch.

As part of our True Food, No Waste initiative, we also work in close partnership with MPS Plant Operations: each schools’ team of custodians ensure that trash, recycling, and compost are properly managed. Learn more about Plant Operations and find your school’s senior custodian’s contact information here.

For more updates on True Food, No Waste, including resources and grant opportunities, subscribe to the Whole Carrot, our department e-newsletter.



  • 58 on-site school kitchens help us reduce waste from packaged foods.
  • Signage recommending students to only take what they can eat and reminding staff and students that taking milk is an option but not a requirement.
  • Bulk milk pilot program to be implemented at 4 schools with the help of a Hennepin County School Recycling Grant.


  • Cafeterias use reusable utensils and dishware whenever possible.
  • Share tables help prevent food waste and provide students with additional servings.
  • Partnership with Second Harvest Heartland through the Meal Connect platform to donate excess meals to feed people in need.


  • 52 schools participate in single stream recycling, collecting papers, cartons, and plastics to be made into new materials at local facilities.
  • 28 schools participate in cafeteria organics recycling, which allows the city to collect cafeteria food scraps and compostable paper products for composting off-site. Many of these schools have received waste sorting stations through Hennepin County School Recycling Grants - see them in action here.
  • Student Green Teams and parent volunteers monitor cafeteria waste bins at lunch.

Contact Information

True Food, No Waste:
Fill out our Contact Us form

School recycling:
Contact your Senior Custodian

Presentations and general recycling questions:
Kira Berglund
Hennepin County
Kira.Berglund@hennepin.us; 612-596-1498

Kellie Kish
City of Minneapolis
Kelliekish@minneapolismn.gov; 612-673-3536





Click to read about our plan.