Healthy Eating

Making it Easy for Students to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Salutations, my name is Alex Larson, a second year Minnesota GreenCorps member serving with Feeling Good MN - CentraCare Health.

What is Minnesota GreenCorps?

MN GreenCorps is a branch of AmeriCorps in which individual members are placed at host-sites across the state to tackle environmentally impacting projects. The projects range in focus, from electrical efficiency to wastewater, and from county or city-wide recycling programs to organics composting and diversion. MN GreenCorps is managed and funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the program is currently in its tenth year of operation.

Who am I?

If you limit me to one word to describe myself I would probably choose “environmentalist.” I have been in love with the outdoors from a young age, when my family took our first trip to the Boundary Waters [Canoe Area Wilderness] (BWCA, for short). Since then I have visited several national parks, the BWCA a few more times, and got my bachelors at UMD (Duluth, not Maryland), and my love for the wild and wonderful flourished. In college I discovered a passion for soils, alternative agriculture (hydroponics, aquaponics…), sustainable practices. I then applied and was accepted to MN GreenCorps last and this year, and I am ready to make another impact

Service and Involvement

As a MN GreenCorps Member my project last year focused on creating benchmarks for my project this year. My projects revolve around wasted food and the prevalence of fruit and vegetables being wasted. Last year I got a snapshot of what waste looks like in each school in St. Cloud and the greater St. Cloud area and helped to write a SCORE grant for equipment and education. This year I am serving in collaboration with St. Cloud Area School District (ISD 742) to pilot a comprehensive cafeteria initiative in four school buildings. The areas of focus are to:

  • Assist the district to change out the old waste bins and purchase standardized waste systems in cafeterias and divert wasted food from trash.
  • Help develop an effective marketing campaign that makes it easy for students and staff to reduce, reuse and recycle. I will also spend time educating and informing district staff and students .
  • Implement Smarter Lunchroom strategies to help "nudge" students to eat more healthy foods.
  • Continue to measure waste. Benchmarks and observations of waste patterns will continue to mark successes or problems, so we can address the issue (if any) or continue to make improvements with waste diverted from the trash and cost reductions. 

Stay tuned to learn more about my progress!

Alex Larson
MN GreenCorps