Volunteer – Lunch and Composting

SIGN UP on the Bowman Lunch Volunteer Schedule and see instructions for composting below:

  • Lunch Shift 1 (Grades K-2): 10:50am – 11:55am
  • Lunch Shift 2 (Grades 3-4): 11:55am – 1:00pm

Did you know there are only 143 of lunch volunteering we need this year? If every family volunteered at ONE lunch shift this year – we would have all of the lunches covered! Schedule something on your lunch calendar now to see your student(s) at lunch. Considering surprising them by volunteering on their birthday or any other day!

Since February 2019, Bowman students across all grades have been composting their school lunch trays and food waste instead of trashing them! This initiative has also been going on at all the other Lexington elementary and middle schools, and our experience has shown that up to 75% of trash/waste generated during lunch periods are compostable paper goods (trays, napkins) and food!  This waste is now being ‘recycled’, i.e. turned into nutrient rich soil for local farms and gardens, instead of going to a landfill/incinerator. Bowman staff and caregivers have been very “excited” and “proud” to see how well our students have been practicing such environmental stewardship; our parent volunteers have described their experience as “fun!”

Come join the FUN! We still need some more parent volunteers to help direct students in the proper way to sort their lunch waste. Not only would you be supporting the school, but it’s a great opportunity to see what goes on during lunchtime.

Contact Green Team
greenteam@bowmanpto.org

Please check out the Bowman Lunch Volunteer Schedule and sign upon the days and shifts that you are interested and able to volunteer as your schedule allows.

Don’t know anything about composting?  Don’t worry!  We’ll walk you through the simple process.   If you have any questions or concerns, about composting, email: greenteam@bowmanpto.org 

Volunteer Instructions for Composting

Optional, but suggested – bring your own apron for composting, and there will be disposable gloves at school.  There are additional aprons in a bin in the cafeteria for your use.

  • If you frequently volunteer, please can take a black apron for your use for the entire school year.
  • The MOST important aspect is to keep compost from being contaminated.  Keep trash OUT of the compost — it’s ok if food goes into the trash.  If there is any trash in the compost, use the grabbers to fish it out.  (No need to fish anything out of trash.)
  • If at any time composting gets “overwhelming” – feel free to close the compost bin, have students dump contents of trays into the trash, and stack the trays.
  • The following is compostable: food, paper (uncoated, such as napkins), most utensils from the cafe (marked “compostable”), 4 compartment yogurt containers marked Recycle #7/PLA.

Student Volunteers

  • Student volunteers are currently allowed for grade 3-5.  We will have a signup sheet.
  • 2 volunteers at a time
  • There are small size gloves for volunteers.

Indoor composting (see picture to the right):

  • Setup (first lunch) – see the picture on the right.
    • Push the cart out from the wall and set up according to the table.  Disposable gloves maybe e located on the cart or on a side table in the cafeteria.
    • Custodian(s) will have a compost bin and trash cans ready. 
    • Custodian(s) will provide the liquids bucket for pouring in liquids (milk, juice, water).
    • Custodian(s) will provide water in the dirty plastics bucket to rinse plastics for recycling.  Please add a few drops of soap to the water.
  • Milk and juice cartons go into the trash: If there is a bucket there for liquids – dump the liquids (This minimizes trash weight and a lot of leakage in the garbage.)
  • Ask student(s) to open their trays.
  • Trash all plastic, packets, and non-compostables from their trays. Especially look out for small packets (ketchup, sauce, syrup) that need to go in the trash.
  • Wash and recycle plastic.
    • Fruit cups – students have to open the cups, dump the food in compost, and then trash the container & lid.
    • Carrots are in plastic bags – you can open the bag and dump the carrots in and then trash the plastic bag. 
    • Any very sticky/dirty (example yogurt cups, “apple pie” cups) can be put in the trash instead of trying to clean them.
  • Then ask students to dump the contents of their tray and stack it on the table.  
    • Most utensils are compostable from the cafe, marked “Compostable”.  Watch out for utensils brought from home – they are generally not compostable.
    • There is also a Utensil bin students can place utensils and we can sort through it to double check if you would like.
  • UNOPENED FOOD (Optional): for any unopened or whole food, please place it in the “unopened food bin”.
    • Would only do this if there are 2 volunteers at lunch.
    • Ideally between every lunch, please take to the staff lounge, wash with soap and water in the sink.  Then dry with paper towels and put it in the staff fridge.
    • Good examples are milk containers, whole fruit, sealed yogurt cups, cheese sticks, etc. Any of the plastic cups that could be opened and closed again, please dispose of normally.
    • Otherwise, you will have to open and dump the food and trash/recycle the container.
    • Volunteers on Monday – please dispose of any expired food from the prior week from the staff lounge
  • If you are in doubt – throw it in the trash!
  • At the end of all of the lunches (after the 3rd grade lunch) — all of the trays go into the compost bin.
  • Push the cart against the wall.

Green Team Mission & Goals for Bowman School and PTO-sponsored Events

Bowman’s Green Team works together with students, families, and staff to:
  • REDUCE waste whether it’s food, paper, or plastics, and encourage reusable items
  • COMPOST food waste and other compostable items
  • RECYCLE non-compostable plastics, paper and other recyclables
The Green Team promotes green practices in our school community, including:
  • Encourage students and the rest of the Bowman community to BYOB (bring your own bottle) to use in classrooms, the cafeteria, and at PTO-sponsored events.
  • Compost food waste at all PTO events with food/drink, reduce use of single-use plastics, recycle unavoidable plastic.
  • Provide education/training for volunteers manning waste/recycle stations at events.
  • Maintain a small budget for purchasing signage, handouts, gloves, compostable items for events, etc.
  • Host Earth Day/Week activities (recycling drives, education, raffles).
  • Add “Eco-Corner”/Green tips in the monthly Broadside publication.
  • Promote other recycling opportunities, some of which can raise $ for the school/PTO (markers, textiles, plastic film/bags, printer toner, phones/tablets).
  • Facilitate more environmentally-minded curriculum by partnering with community resources, faculty and LPS.
  • Compost food waste at lunch.
  • Continue to update this page with information and graphics for education of the Bowman community in general and for PTO event planners.

Green Ways to Support Bowman


Participate in the LPS Race to Compost
Get in on the competition! Join all Lexington Public Schools in the “Race to Compost”.  Turn your food waste into valuable compost, earn a $10 donation for Bowman and get us closer to winning. Just mention “Bowman PTO” in the referral section when you sign up for curbside pick-up from Black Earth Compost for as little as $8 per month.  The first school with 50 referral sign-ups gets two 13-gallon compost bins and liners.[clearboth]


Recycle Your Used Textiles
Raise $ for Bowman while giving your used textiles a second life. The program generates a rebate of $100 per ton of textiles collected. Drop off your used textiles in the BayState Textiles Recycling container located in Bowman’s parking lot.[clearboth]

Volunteer with the Green Team

If you would like more information, or are interested in helping Bowman Go Green, please contact: greenteam@bowmanpto.org.