Senator Anthony Portantino Introduces Bill Initiated by the Glendale Environmental Coalition to Tackle Waste Reduction in School Food Delivery

Thursday, February 17 2022

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2022

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Senator Anthony Portantino Introduces Bill Initiated by the Glendale Environmental Coalition to Tackle Waste Reduction in School Food Delivery

Sacramento, CA - State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) introduced Senate Bill 1255, a measure that establishes a dishwasher grant program to reduce waste in K–12 schools and community colleges to address the state’s single-use trash and waste crisis.

“Installing commercial dishwashers at schools and community colleges will pave the way for safe and reusable food ware,” stated Senator Portantino. “It is time to implement effective and creative solutions to eliminating single-use waste and SB 1255 creates a path for that in our schools. We can prevent single-use items from being utilized and also teach students the value of conservation and environmental protection.”

Currently, there is no program in California dedicated to reducing single-use waste in K–12 school cafeterias and on community college campuses. Commercial dishwashers use little water, heat to high temperatures for complete sanitation, dry quickly, and are fast and energy efficient, lowering the number of dishes needed. These machines can last 15 years, providing significant savings over time and offsetting waste management costs that are expected to rise in the near future. However, industrial dishwashers have high upfront costs that schools cannot afford.

SB 1255 would establish the Dishwasher Grant Program for Waste Reduction in K–12 Schools and Community Colleges and would be administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The Department would provide grants to school districts, charter schools, and community college districts for the purchase and installation of commercial dishwashers at the school sites and campuses. 

The idea for the bill was brought to Senator Portantino during a meeting with members of the Glendale Environmental Coalition.

"This legislation would provide what is essentially the ‘holy grail’ for waste reduction in school cafeterias, a means to move quickly and affordably to reusable food ware and away from single use disposables. Removing the upfront costs to purchasing and installing industrial dishwashers and having it be specifically from a pot of funding that does not compete with other kitchen upgrade needs, allows schools and community colleges to reap the rewards of lower hauling costs and lower ongoing purchasing costs, and stem the enormous tide of single use waste created daily on campuses around our State. It's a win, win, win. Eating from a reusable dish or tray with real silverware also makes reuse normal for students. Right now, normal is throwing everything in a trash can when you have used it for a matter of minutes. This has to change. This bill offers the means," stated Monica Campagna, a parent and campus caretaker at Glendale Unified School District’s Franklin Elementary School and a member of the Glendale Environmental Coalition.

SB 1255 would require the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to award grants of up to $40,000 per kitchen of a school or campus and to develop administrative guidelines for implementation of the program. The bill would require the Department to develop materials and conduct outreach to those local educational agencies about the program and authorize them to work with the State Department of Education, the Office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, or other relevant state agencies for purposes of the program. Finally, SB 1255 would make the implementation of these provisions contingent upon an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or another statute.