Composting School Lunches

Asked February 1, 2017, 2:16 PM EST

Good afternoon! I found your contact information in a packet of information developed by the School Garden Project of Lane County. I am working on developing a worm composting system at my children’s elementary school in Bloomington, IN, to process the school’s organic lunch and classroom waste. I have some questions about what to compost and what not to compost. I know that worms do not like citrus, pineapples and cooking oil. But is there anything wrong with composting meat, dairy, processed foods and bread? I know that most people are reluctant to compost these items because of the potential for pests and odors, but I think that we have solutions for those two problem areas. Are there any other issues that I need to know about with these items? Thanks! Ellee Spier

Monroe County Indiana

3 Responses

Keep to organic based fruits, vegetables, tea bags.

Here are some websites that provide information on vermicomposting and what you can provide to the worms.

As for meat and dairy products they can harbor E. coli and Salmonella and should not be included or used in any way in vermicomposting.

Thank you for your response.
One of the websites referenced mentioned composting orange peels. I thought that citrus fruits are not good for worms. Please advise.
Also, what about bread, cereal, pasta, and rice? One of the websites mentioned that worms like cereal.
Thanks again!

The important thing to keep in mind is balance. A small percentage of orange peels should not cause a problem for the worms. But you wouldn't want to add large amounts of them on a regular basis.

Bread, cereal, etc. shouldn't be a problem either, but again, it's important to keep it balanced.

I'm adding another resource for you to look at that may be helpful: