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Green Cafeterias

We are proud to announce that we are piloting a new feature entitled “Green Cafeterias.”  We have many buildings at 4J that are “Green School” certified. Although Nutrition Services does not have control over the green school process at the building level, we recognize we can potentially generate the most waste at a building, so we’re working to create a additional process for ensuring our cafeterias can reduce waste and be more sustainable.  We would like to share what we are doing in this venture:

Washable Plasticware:  A number of schools are in the process of doing a pilot program of moving to washable and reusable plastic ware. We continue to add schools to the “washable” list.  Most schools utilize recycling stations, and the kids do a fantastic job showing empathy for the environment, making the system easier to manage.  We are looking forward to expand this program!

Dishwashing: Last year we switched our high-temperature dishwashing machines to a new system that virtually has no packaging for its chemicals, thereby reducing waste.  Before, the detergents and soaps came in thick plastic containers that were difficult to deal with.  Now the system uses detergent that has virtually no wasteful packaging.  Also, 4J has been switching to energy-efficient low-temperature machines when it is time to replace the dish machines. UPDATE:  Plans are underway to convert ALL dishwashers to the new system that uses virtually no packaging for its chemicals!

Washable Trays or Plates:  100% of our elementary schools utilize washable trays to reduce waste. We are working on a pilot to introduce washable plates at select secondary schools.

Reducing landfill waste: Gone are the old styrofoam plates at our middle and high schools.  We’ve replaced them with compostable paper products at the high schools that are more environmentally friendly and can decompose or be recycled easier. The plates we use there are made from 100% reclaimed fiber, and are fully biodegradable and compostable when managed by a professional waste management company.

Recycling Stations: Several of our cafeterias have recycling stations where they separate the different types of wast to eliminate the amount of trash going in the landfill

Composting: Several of our cafeterias use leftover scraps to compost for their school garden.  Some are very simple composting systems all the way up to very elaborate systems.  The composting stations have specific criteria to ensure the right food gets composted, and is monitored usually by a student or staff member.

Sustainable Offering Bar:  We have some cafeterias that have a “sustainable offering bar” at times. This is done by having produce come from the school garden, recycling/composting when they’re done and starting the process over again!


We get questions asking what it takes for an entire school to become a green school.  Below is the criteria needed for certification.  For more information and a complete list of all Oregon Green Schools, go to oregongreenschools.org.

GREEN SCHOOL CRITERIA (3 LEVELS)1.  Entry Level (Green School)

  • Must recycle three products
  • Must have a waste audit;  a days worth of garbage, any potential recycleables going to the landfill?

2. Merit Level

  • Must do everything at the entry level
  • Must recycle six products
  • Must help another school become a green school OR have a sustainability program

3. Premier Level

  • Must do everything at the merit level
  • Must help the community in a sustainability project.


The list below shows exactly what is going on where in terms of sustainability efforts in 4J cafeterias.  This list is changing frequently so check back often!

4J “GREEN LIST” AS OF 5/24/2012:


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