Phyllis Theermann

Join EPA Sustainable Materials Management Web Academy and Wellesley’s own Sustainable Energy Administrator on Thursday, Mar 30, 2017 from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

School food invokes memories of cafeteria lines, pizza and cartons of milk. What most of us didn’t pay attention to or remember was the amount of wasted food (food that could be eaten by someone else if recovered) and food waste (food that is inedible or has been partially consumed and could be composted) created in school cafeterias. In this webinar, attendees will hear from three leaders in the industry on how to more effectively managed the entire food process affecting school cafeterias. First, you will hear about methods to teach children about the impacts of food waste and wasted food. Then, moving directly into the cafeteria, you will learn about practices to evaluate the amount of food waste and wasted food. Finally, you will learn about a new initiative to collect the wasted food and redistribute it into the community for people to eat.

Please register here.


Nayiri Haroutunian is the Program Manager at Washington Green Schools. Through this non-profit, she works closely with schools and teachers in the state to provide curriculum support that is rooted in environmental standards as well as guidance to encourage student environmental leadership projects. She recently developed an NGSS-driven curriculum on waste and decomposition for Seattle Public Schools called Zombie Guacamole. Nayiri previously worked as an environmental educator at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago developing, implementing, and evaluating engaging programs for diverse urban youth, including local stewardship and restoration programs. Nayiri holds an MS in Natural Resources & Environment from the University of Michigan and a BS in Psychology from the University of Iowa. Nayiri is committed to access and equity in environmental education and is passionate about local food and photography.

Marybeth Martello, Sustainable Energy Administrator for the Town of Wellesley, MA and Program Coordinator for the MetroWest STEM Education Network at Framingham State University.  Inspired by USEPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, Marybeth led an effort at Bates Elementary School to design a comprehensive cafeteria waste assessment and implement a food recovery and recycling program that is now being replicated at other schools.  Marybeth collaborates with Town government, state and federal agencies, and community groups to devise and run initiatives to lower greenhouse gas emissions via sustainable materials management, building design, and energy conservation.  Marybeth’s projects also work to advance STEM learning, especially as it pertains to the environment.  She is currently helping to develop a climate change education program for middle school teachers.  Marybeth holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a B.A. in English from UCONN.  She has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and an interdepartmental Ph.D. from MIT.

Lynn Johnson is the Supervisor for the Child Nutrition Services at the Bremerton School District, in Bremerton Washington since January 2015. She has been involved in Child Nutrition for over 15 years.   Bremerton School district serves over 5,000 children across 9 schools. Lynn has been instrumental in the School Food Share project that started with the Bremerton School District in 2016. This project keeps on an average 3,000 pounds of reusable food per month out of our landfills and puts it into the mouths of people in our community who need it.  Lynn has 4 married children, 3 grandchildren with another on the way.  Lynn enjoys spending time with her family on their 5 acer “hobby farm” in Belfair, WA where they garden, grow fruit and have lots of animals!

Phyllis Theermann
Bate 5th grade students at sharing table they created as part of the EPA Food Recovery Challenge Standing top row left to right: Annabelle Xu, Tyler Yen, Lucy Kim, Brooke Rosedale, Eshaal Tariq, Lucy Snow Crouched middle row l-r: Sadie Solomon, Casey Zides, Ben Grossi, Isabella Pavano, Molly Plenge Seated front row l-r: Caroline Jolley, Dylan Boyle, Brandon Adler, Ben Palli

Bate 5th grade students at sharing table they created as part of the EPA Food Recovery Challenge
Standing top row left to right: Annabelle Xu, Tyler Yen, Lucy Kim, Brooke Rosedale, Eshaal Tariq, Lucy Snow
Crouched middle row l-r: Sadie Solomon, Casey Zides, Ben Grossi, Isabella Pavano, Molly Plenge
Seated front row l-r: Caroline Jolley, Dylan Boyle, Brandon Adler, Ben Palli

Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School in Wellesley, MA, is receiving national attention by pledging to improve its sustainable food management practices and report its results. The school, one of seven elementary schools that are part of Wellesley Public Schools, recently joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge, becoming the first K-12 school in New England to participate in this program.

“The EPA is pleased that Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School in Wellesley is the first New England K-12 school to join our Food Recovery Challenge,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the U.S. EPA’s New England office. “This is a great way to lead by example, both for our kids and for other schools. They will help show that reducing food waste helps protect our environment along with saving both money and food. It’s good old-fashioned common sense that we should use food to feed people and not landfills,” Spalding said.

Students, parents and school administrators are working to create a plan to prevent and divert wasted food in the school cafeteria by following the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. The hierarchy recommends actions in the following order by – source reduction, feeding hungry people, feeding animals, and reuse (e.g., composting and/or anaerobic digestion).

“Students are really engaged to help others and reduce food waste generation,” said Toni Jolley, Bates Elementary School principal. “This is an important national issue as since 40% of what is grown in the US is never eaten, wasting an estimated 25% of our potable water and 4% of our power, while 1 in 7 people are food insecure. Through our participation in the FRC program, we hope to encourage behavior changes in our own small community that might spark action on a larger scale,” Jolley said.

Program organizers are collaborating on this pilot project with a number of Wellesley town departments and committees including the Natural Resources Commission, Sustainable Energy Committee, Wellesley Public Schools, Department of Public Works, Health Department, Food Pantry, Council on Aging, 3R(Reduce Reuse Recycle) Working Group and Wellesley Green Schools.

“We hope this program will be the first of many throughout the district that will enable us to reduce our environmental footprint; donate nutritious, leftover food to feed hungry people, not landfills; and save money via reduced purchasing and waste disposal costs,” said Marybeth Martello, a Bates parent who initiated the FRC efforts. The school is currently planning an assessment to determine baseline measurements and first year goals.

For more information on the EPA’s Food Recovery Program, please contact Janet Bowen ( at 617.918.1795. To learn more about the Bates Elementary program, contact Marybeth Martello at



Bates School 5th graders take turns serving a five-week term on the student council during which time they collaborate to identify a need in our community and plan a project that addresses that need.

The current student council has identified food waste as an area of concern.

They are working with parents, their peers, teachers and Principal Toni Jolley on a new food recovery program. See their inspiring presentation here to learn what simple changes you can do in your home, school, or office.

This coincides with the recent Food Recycling and Recovery event where the film, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT: Solutions for Reducing Food Waste was shown and Wellesley native, Ashley Stanley of Lovin’ Spoonfuls (an organization that  bridges the gap between abundance and need), spoke to a full house at the library. This event, presented by Wellesley’s Natural Resources Commission and Sustainable Energy Committee, started the conversation about what could be done to help stop the more than $165 billion worth of food every year in the US from being wasted (according to theEPA).

Contact or for more information.

Kudos to Bates and others out there reducing food waste and recovering it!