The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) presented a 2022 Climate and Energy Leadership Award to the Rise N Shine Foundation Inc., founded by Richard Montgomery High School junior Shrusti Amula, for its “Can We Do Something About Food Waste?” project (video below).
Amula embarked on a research project with friends for a STEM competition on food waste and its effects on climate. The team of students volunteered to adopt an elementary school in the county as a pilot and committed time and effort to implement a composting program. The “Can We Do Something About Food Waste?” project aims to divert food waste from incinerators or landfills to compost facilities and save food from restaurants and grocery stores from becoming food waste and provide it to vulnerable members of the community with food insecurity.
The foundation runs the composting program at five local schools. It has recovered an estimated total of 52,000 lbs. of food waste that serves eight shelter homes and food banks and has partnered with four organizations to deliver excess food. The total estimated weight diverted from the program is 17.6 tons, which is equivalent to the GHG emissions from over 35,300 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle. The success of this program has inspired other students to start similar composting programs across the county.