In 2018 State College Meals on Wheels (SCMOW) delivered 55,701 meals to individuals who live in the State College Area School District and who are disabled, aging, or infirm. Currently meals are delivered in single-use black plastic trays that cannot be recycled in Centre County.
My idea is that SCMOW would pilot a Reusable Meal Tray Project to reduce plastic waste and save money. SCMOW would deliver meals in reusable trays on two (~14 people/route) of its ten daily routes. On the pilot routes, (1) client’s meals would be delivered in reusable trays, (2) trays will be picked up the next day along with their new meal, and (3) trays will be sanitized for the next day.
A Reusable Meal Tray Program would reduce not only plastic waste, but also costs over time. I estimate that SCMOW could save about $23,000 after five years. These savings would be a boon to SCMOW because the organization does not accept government funding; therefore, we are able to amplify the client base. Current client demographics: Age: 9% < 60, 27% 60-74, 35% 75-84, 29% 85+; Income: 26% live below poverty line. The majority of clients (74%) live above the poverty line, many of whom might not be served due to high income. The award of an Awesome Grant will allow SCMOW to pilot this project without stressing the organization’s budget. If the project is deemed successful, the Executive Director would ask the Board to expand the use of reusable meal trays in the 2020 budget and beyond.
This project supports SCMOW’s mission by saving money, not relying on single-use trays, and supporting a healthy and clean environment. According to the 2019 Centre County Community Coalition, there are many social determinants that impact everyone’s health. More specifically, 10% of our health is impacted by the physical environment. Reducing the amount of waste in our community leads to a cleaner physical environment, which furthermore improves everyone’s overall health.
Funded by State College, PA (August 2019)