Montgomery County Students Support a Bill to Reduce Food Waste

Back row: Erica, Joe, Bavan, Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, Gov. Wes Moore’s Director of Political Engagement Saif Ratul, Sanjana, Delegate Jared Solomon, Thomas, Khalila; Front row: Advika, Angelina, Pragna, Shrusti, Sophie

This post written by Erica Weiss, member of the Coalition to Reimagine School Waste

Students from around the state of Maryland are speaking up about the benefits of composting and food recovery. In fact, kindergarten through high schoolers from 77 Maryland schools wrote 10,000 postcards to Governor Moore asking for funds to support composting and food recovery programs in their schools.

100% of the organic waste we throw away can turn into nutrient-rich soil through composting, while only 10% of our plastics get recycled. Yet – we throw our organics in the trash. That leads to excessive methane or toxic ash from incinerators,” explained Advika Agarwal, 11th grade student from Richard Montgomery High School (RMHC).

“In Maryland, we don’t pay enough attention to this important climate solution. It’s time to change the way our schools and communities manage food waste!”, added Angelina Xu, also an 11th grade student from RMHC.

In early February, eight high school students and one recent high school graduate from around the state went to Annapolis to deliver student postcards and talk with the Governor’s staff, Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment, and legislators about their goals to get more schools in MD to compost and recover food. 

These students have been actively raising money from private donors, PTAs, and the World Wildlife Fund to start composting and food recovery programs in over 20 schools in Montgomery and Frederick Counties, but they want to see all 1,400 public schools funded to do this. The tons of food waste they’ve prevented from being thrown away as trash with just these handfull of schools is remarkable – as are their efforts to feed hungry students and families with untouched food that would have otherwise been thrown away. 

Their advocacy efforts last year were rewarded with the passage of a bill spearheaded by Senator Hettleman, Delegate Charkoudian, and Delegate Solomon to create a grants program for compost and food recovery programs in MD schools. Though the bill was signed into law by Governor Hogan, all funds for school grants were stripped.  

This year, the students are pushing even harder with the hope that legislators and  Governor Moore’s new, more supportive, administration will secure funds for this grant program. 

These kids are NOT giving up. They won’t stop fighting for this seemingly small, but hugely impactful step to protect the environment and prevent hunger.

To learn more, contact students from the Coalition to Reimagine School Waste, like Advika & Angelina from Compostology:  [email protected] in Montgomery County, or contact Joe Richardson from Lunch out of Landfills at [email protected] in Frederick County.