By Lisa Pellegrino

Being a steward of the earth is Samantha Wilson’s passion. As New London Public Schools’ Director of the Child Nutrition Program, she works hard to make the highest and best use of the district’s kitchens, which serve 3,300+ students. During the pandemic, Sam and her team ensured students were fed free breakfast and lunch. Throughout the summer they deliver meals at bus stops throughout the city. They regularly organize community meals, during which they make meals from scratch, try new recipes, and seek community feedback.

Resourcefulness Abounds

Sam is always trying to improve New London’s Food Service Department. In 2018 they successfully implemented a food scraps recycling program at C.B. Jennings International Elementary Magnet School. Food scraps from the C.B. Jennings cafeteria are source separated by students and subsequently sent to a local pig farm. Once at the farm, the food scraps are treated through a steaming process and then fed to the pigs. Happy pigs, happy earth!

When CET connected with Sam and her team they were already clear on their goals to expand the food scrap recycling program to the other elementary schools by the end of the year. This fall, the Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School rollout was successful and they’re already working on expanding the program to Winthrop STEM Elementary School.

When Sam was asked about what contributed to the success of the food scrap recycling program expansion, she cited having buy-in from teachers in the cafeteria and from the custodians. “Expansion has been slow but effective”—a compelling reminder to us all about the importance of long-term, consistent progress and how that leads to lasting change.

What’s in the Future for New London Public Schools?

Next up—getting reusable dining ware back into the cafeterias. CET is thrilled to partner with New London Public Schools while it makes steady strides on its sustainability journey. In Sam’s cafeterias sustainability is on the menu. Order up!

Ready to start a sustainability journey in your district or town?

CET acts as a catalyst to accelerate the development of a vibrant marketplace to divert waste from the commercial and institutional sectors. CET believes that better managing waste is critical in order to address climate change, feed more hungry people, and grow our economy. If you’re interested in starting a waste reduction initiative in your school district or town, contact us!

Lisa Pellegrino is a Waste Reduction Consultant with CET and believes there’s no such thing as trash, just misplaced resources. Lisa is an alum of the University of Rhode Island, AmeriCorps, and the Southface Energy Institute, and in 2016 got her MBA in Sustainable Systems specializing in sustainable food and agriculture. In her current role at CET, she is a staff member of the Commercial Waste technical team, working on implementing waste reduction solutions for businesses and institutions.