Reopening with Reusables during COVID-19

A transition to Green & Healthy K-12 Schools


Kids standing in line in masksCOVID-19 has created many challenges for our K-12 schools, one of the most important being how we protect the health of our students. In our efforts to maintain student safety, we must not lose sight of our sustainability goals. Along with masks, good ventilation, social-distancing, handwashing and appropriate disinfecting, it’s important to ensure our students aren’t exposed to chemicals that harm their health.

In the video below, you’ll view a discussion about key health and environmental risks associated with toxic chemicals commonly found in single-use foodware. You will hear from two school districts in Massachusetts that are piloting the transition from single-use foodware to healthier, more sustainable reusables as they reopen during COVID-19. Our presenters shared what motivated them to begin their transition, how their food service programs have evolved and adapted to the constraints under the current pandemic, as well as their challenges and successes to date.


Download the slides here

Questions and answers




  • Jacki Dillenback ⁠– Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Ralph C. Mahar Regional/Orange Elementary School District
  • Janice King ⁠– Food Service Director, Auburn Public Schools
  • Sue Chiang ⁠– Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the risks toward student and environmental health associated with toxic chemicals (such as PFAS) in single-use food service ware, including chemical migration into food, water and compost.

  • Identify tools, policies and resources to help purchasers identify safer food service ware products.
  • Develop practical strategies to ensure your school’s transition to reusable foodware is successful – even as plans change during the pandemic

Who was this online training intended for?

This webinar is intended for school administrators, green team members as well as procurement, food nutrition, sustainability, facilities, and operations staff; Teachers, parents, guardians, students and organizational staff from other sectors are welcome to join and learn as well!