Grant-funded project helps Lower Richland students turn trash into food

Grant-funded project helps Lower Richland students turn trash into food

HOPKINS, SC (WIS) - Students at Lower Richland High are taking their trash and finding a better use for it.

Carroll Kelley, II, a teacher at Lower Richland High School, supervises the new “LifeCycle Innovation Project.” The project turns students' trash into fertilizer and that fertilizer into food.

“Everyday, the cafeteria was throwing away food in the past that wasn't eaten or served,” Kelley said. “So, now we put the food in the food dryer.”

According to Kelley, the school produces about 200 pounds of leftover food per week. For the last few months, that food is placed in a dehydrator to be ground up and dried out. From there, it goes to the worms to make a compost. Once the worms are finished, the fertilizer will be used for a solar-powered greenhouse.

“All the food waste we've had, we've saved so much from it,” student project supervisor Nazaire Bethea said. “We're doing something productive with it.”

Science, technology, engineering, and math are already part of the school's curriculum. Now, the students can put it into practice.

”Our LifeCycle program has a lot of kids you wouldn't typically see in the STEM program,” Lower Richland Principal Kelvin Wymbs said. “Not only are they getting a hands-on look at global learning but they're also building up their esteem across campus.”

“It's very productive,” Bethea said. “It's very responsible and it's helping our community in a great way.”

“I'm very proud of the way it's been embraced by the students and the way they've learned and the excitement for doing it,” Kelley said.

LifeCycle is a grant-funded partnership between the school district and private businesses.

"I'd love to expand this project to not only other schools across the district but the county and the Midlands," Meghan Hughes Hickman of EngenuitySC said. "My initial hope is that students involved with this project can learn things that will instantly impact their future."

The school still needs to add some finishing touches to the greenhouse but they are expecting it to be fully functional and using fertilizer by the summer.

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