Kainalu Elementary School

Showcase School, Community Connection
Student enrollment, Preschool-6: 460

Start: January 2017
• Total 2017 food waste recovered: 29,657 lbs. (14.8 tons)
• Total 2018 food waste recovered: 27,381 lbs. (13.7 tons)

Worms Get The Ball Rolling
Waikiki Worm Company was hired to consult on a struggling worm operation at Kainalu Elementary in March of 2016. Parent volunteer Fe Bailey worked hard and followed instructions to the letter to bring that sad little worm colony up to speed over the spring and summer, and by the time school started up again in August, those wormies were a ravenous force to be reckoned with! Soon they were housed in a lateral-flow Pipeline bin (funded by Kokua Hawaii Foundation) and knocking down 30-40 pounds of kitchen waste a week. By the time we handed Fe the check for $600 earned by selling their surplus worms in December, the response from the school was unanimous: WE WANT MORE food waste recovery, and more of the benefits it generates.

A food waste audit was conducted right before Winter Break that elicited enthusiastic approval from Principal Sheri Sunabe to start the Ka’ohao Protocol at Kainalu the very first day of school in January 2017. Now with three active locations, we re-organized as the Windward Zero Waste School Hui, a project of Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council.

Kainalu has two breakfast seatings, three lunch seatings, with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students – in teams of four – assisting at the Separation Station. They sort a lot of food waste. The worms continued to grind away and a hot compost operation was initiated. By the end of the first semester twelve 1,000-pound compost piles were filled.

The scale of the operation at Kainalu was far beyond our experience. How on earth were we going to harvest all those piles when they came due? What were we going to do with mountains of compost? Our original idea was the schools would use the compost on their gardens, landscaping, and lawns, but it became clear that at bigger schools there would be surplus even after garden managers and custodians took their share.

Compost Club/Compost Sale
The Compost Club was developed to recruit an army of adult volunteers willing to participate in regular compost harvesting sessions, in exchange for membership benefits. The Compost Sale was scheduled for the last Saturday in January and the last Saturday in June to sell the accumulated surplus compost from all Hui schools to the public.

Funds were acquired to purchase a 40-foot refurbished shipping container to serve as a parking stall for a utility cart, storage for a growing inventory of equipment, with space for up to 15 cubic yards of compost. A 15’ x 20’ concrete slab was poured; a canopy installed to cover to create an outdoor classroom and workspace. The worm bin was relocated under the canopy and a second bin added. This facility anchored an expanse we dubbed the MADA, the Malama ‘Aina Discovery Area, which included a STEM classroom, the AINA garden, our outdoor classroom, and the compost array.

All this was ready for our first Compost Sale in January of 2018. TV reporter Stephanie Lum from Hawaii News Now taped a piece earlier, Food Waste — at Three Oahu Schools, that aired the Friday before the sale. Customers came from all over the island and we sold out in three hours! All the Hui schools made money.

Kainalu’s back-gate location is perfectly accessible from everywhere. They have unlimited parking. The MADA is an ideal facility for selling as well as educating – visitors can see and experience the whole process. Kainalu immediately became the showcase location for tours and our connection to the entire Windward community.