Blender Bikes Put Spotlight on Rancho Minerva’s EMIE Award-winning Work to Reduce Food Waste

March 01st, 2019

WaveCrest Cafe recently brought our blender bikes to Rancho Minerva Middle School for a lunch time activity at the request of teacher Melanie Phillips. Mrs. Phillips and Rancho Minerva 7th grader Keila Ceron, are recent recipients of the prestigious EMIE Unwasted Food Award, presented by the San Diego Food System Alliance to honor efforts to reduce food waste.

Rancho Minerva teacher Melanie Phillips (Center) and student Keila Ceron (Right) with San Diego Food System Alliance Director Elly Brown (Left), receiving a 2018 EMIE Unwasted Food Award.

The EMIE Awards are designed to honor the legacy of Congressman Bill Emerson, sponsor of the 1996 Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which, in order to encourage food donation, protects donors from liability. 

The blender bikes were set up in the common area outside of the school library during the lunch period, where throngs of students gathered to sample fresh and tasty smoothies, power blenders by riding the bikes, and bring attention to the school’s work to reduce food waste, primarily through bringing attention to the sharing barrels at the school.Food gathered via the sharing barrels is collected during meal times, stored at safe temperatures, and then donated to the San Diego Food Bank.

In addition to the EMIE Award, Mrs. Phillips and her students have won a $2,000 NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce.

The grant and award winning project employed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to see students create a process to gather and analyze data on the topic, and then design and propose solutions to address the real world challenge of food waste.

Students selected a time frame to gather data on food waste before and after the implementation of a proposed solution. The students had a goal of reducing food waste by 25% after implementing their solutions. Tactics of their campaign included a poster campaign, painting picnic table murals, and creating an Earth parade on campus, among others.

In addition to these events, Keila, a current 7th grader who developed the ideas during her 6th grade year, is now speaking with all 6th graders at the school to share information on food waste and to present to her peers the ways that they can be involved in addressing the problem.

Students gather around on of the two blender bikes to see fresh smoothies made before their eyes.

As students gathered around the blender bikes and sampled smoothies, Mrs. Phillips and some of her students took time to speak with their peers. The smoothies were such a hit with students that all of the samples were gone by the end of the first lunch period, and so a return of the bikes to engage with the rest of the school is being planned.

Mrs. Melanie Phillips takes her turn on the bikes, mixing up fresh smoothies for students and staff.
Counting down to flavor.
Not only do the bikes make smoothies, but they get riders’ blood pumping.