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Parra Middle School Wins Grades of Green's Trash-Free Lunch Challenge

Parras Middle School students show off the reusable lunchbox "trophy" they received for winning this year's Trash-Free Lunch Challenge.
Parras Middle School students show off the reusable lunchbox "trophy" they received for winning this year's Trash-Free Lunch Challenge.

Parras Middle School in Redondo Beach was awarded the Grand Prize in Grades of Green’s third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge Tuesday. The countywide competition, created by environmental education non-profit Grades of Green and sponsored by the Sanitation Districts of L.A. County, teaches students to reduce lunchtime waste and care for the environment by using reusable lunch containers and by sorting compostable and recyclable materials. 

Parras was selected as the middle and high school category winner from a group of 24 entrants across the county. The school was honored with a celebration on Earth Day (Tuesday) and received a $1,000 education grant.

“Parras’ middle school students reduced lunchtime trash by 90%--a remarkable accomplishment.  But what’s more important is that over a thousand students there—and more than 13,000 across the county—have been taught how to take positive action to care for the environment because of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge,” said Lisa Coppedge, Grades of Green Co-Founder and Director of Programs.  “This program addresses environmental issues at the root: The more we can educate and inspire young people to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost—good habits they will carry with them for a lifetime—the better off our environment will be for years to come.” 

A judging panel of four environmental experts visited Parras and two other finalists in the competition—Jane Addams Middle School in Lawndale and Jordan Middle School in Burbank— last Wednesday to determine the Grand Prize winner. The panel included Marieta Francis, Executive Director, Algalita Marine Research Foundation; Rupam Soni, Senior Environmental Engineer, Sanitation Districts of L.A. County; Joel Green, Creator, Producer and Host of Curiosity Quest and Curiosity Quest Goes Green, PBS television shows for children; and Craig Cadwallader, Chair of Surfrider Foundation’s South Bay chapter.

Both Jane Addams Middle School and Jordan Middle School will receive Second Prize awards of $750 each. 

“We are proud to sponsor this remarkably effective program. Now completing its third year, the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has educated more than 25,000 students on waste reduction,” said Grace Robinson Hyde, Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge’s main sponsor. Additional sponsors include sponsors include the City of Santa Monica, LAcarGUY, 4th District County of Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe, Warner Bros., Wean Green, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation. 

Vista del Valle Elementary in Claremont took the Grand Prize in the elementary school category of the competition, beating out finalists Lowell Elementary in Long Beach and McKinley Elementary in Santa Monica.  Vista del Valle will be honored with a celebration on Tuesday, April 29.

Even though this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge is nearly complete, any school may initiate Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch program, as well as more than 40 other environmental activities.  Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org.

About the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County 

The Sanitation Districts are a regional agency consisting of 23 independent special districts serving over 5.5 million people in 78 cities and unincorporated territory within Los Angeles County.  The Sanitation Districts protect public health and the environment through innovative and cost-effective wastewater and solid waste management, and in doing so convert waste into resources such as recycled water, energy, and recycled materials. For more information on the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, contact Rupam Soni at 562-908-4288, ext. 2303.

About Grades of Green

Grades of Green is an environmental education nonprofit dedicated to providing parents, students and educators with free, easy, hands on and fun tools to educate, inspire, and empower pre-K–12 students to take steps to care for the environment.  Anyone who wants to implement sustainability programs can register their school online—at no cost—to get tips and measure their success on reducing trash, emissions, harmful classroom chemicals, plus dozens of other ways to help the environment.  Grades of Green has been honored with many awards, including the U.S. EPA’s prestigious Environmental Award.

The nonprofit is growing rapidly, with more than 151,000 students enrolled across 36 states and five countries, including many low-income schools. Grades of Green’s goal is simple--to enroll thousands of schools with millions of kids, all caring for the environment and collectively making a difference.  For more information on Grades of Green visit www.gradesofgreen.org or contact Kim Martin at 310-291-4476. 

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