WSD was awarded $4300 from Washington State Department of Ecology and $1500 from Waste Connections for their ‘Going Milk Carton-less’ project.

Washougal, Wa–Each month Washougal’s culinary services serve roughly 25,000 hand-crafted chef inspired meals that come with milk as a requirement of the National School Lunch Program. Not every student drinks the milk and, as a result, gallons of milk are being poured down the drain every day while cartons accumulate in the waste bins awaiting the trip to the landfill. As part of the district’s focus on stewardship of resources and sustainability, the culinary team is planning on installing milk dispensers and purchasing glassware for each cafeteria that does not yet have one

With the recent award of $4300  Waste Not Washington Sustainable School award and an additional $1500 from Waste Connections, Washougal School District will be able to execute the ‘Going Milk Carton-less’ project providing milk dispensers at our remaining schools;  Cape Horn-Skye Elementary, Canyon Creek Middle School, Columbia River Gorge Elementary, Jemtegaard Middle School, and Washougal High School. 

Margaret Rice, Director of Culinary Services  said, “By adding the use of milk dispensers in every school cafeteria, we would be meeting the Federal requirement of providing milk while allowing students to get as much or as little as they want at each meal service.” Adding, “We believe that these dispensers will be of great value not only in the elimination of the cartons but the reduction in milk waste.” In addition, when the milk dispensers were rolled out at Gause Elementary three years ago, students reported that they liked the taste of the milk from the dispenser better and appreciated the opportunity to get more milk if they wanted. 

According to the Washington State Department of Ecology website, “The Waste Not Washington School Awards promote sustainability and reward school efforts to reduce waste, recycle, and teach environmental curriculum.” Stewardship of resources is one of the pillars of the 2025 WSD Strategic Plan, and under the direction of Rice, Washougal School District has worked diligently to promote sustainability and good stewardship of resources. As a result of this work Washougal School District is becoming recognized for their work to be more sustainable with these awards, numerous recommendation letters, and an Earth Gen Certification for Washougal High School. 

Shannon Brennan of Earth Gen said, “It’s rare to find a school district where this passion is just as strong with  the Superintendent as it is with the students. Superintendent Dr. Mary Templeton is dedicated to, and supportive of, this work happening in every school in Washougal School  District.” Brennan added, “Washougal School District has demonstrated time and time again their dedication to  healthy, sustainable school communities.” 

The work that has happened in Washougal to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly has been a top down team effort and has garnered support from students and other staff. From composting food scraps to serving from reusable ceramic dishes and metal sauce bowls in the high school, buying local and serving hand-crafted chef inspired meals to the addition of milk dispensers, Washougal School District has proven to be good stewards of resources and has produced a replicable plan that can help other school districts become more sustainable.