Glendale Environmental Coalition Celebrates New Funding for K-12 California Schools to Purchase and Install Dishwashers to Reduce Waste

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2023
Contact: Monica Campagna,

Glendale Environmental Coalition (GEC) thanks Senator Anthony Portantino, the California Legislature, and Governor Newsom for allocating $15 million for commercial dishwasher grants to K-12 schools in California to stem the tons of single-use foodware that flow to landfills. Schools will be eligible for up to $40,000 per kitchen for dishmachines and related upgrades so they can switch from disposable to reusable foodware. This will save resources and money, and provide a positive daily example to students about living sustainably.

Reusable foodware can be acquired through grant programs from nonprofits such as Plastic Free Restaurants, Stop Waste and ReThink Disposable.

We are extremely grateful to Senator Portantino for championing the need for this funding! While school districts may wish to move away from single-use foodware, limited funding for kitchen needs means that purchasing dishwashers is rarely prioritized.

GEC and partner Green Lunchroom worked to reduce the enormous amount of single-use plastic used by school cafeterias. The organizations asked Portantino to propose a separate funding source just for this upstream waste prevention measure. Senator Portantino authored Senate Bill 1255, co-sponsored by the Glendale Environmental Coalition and Green Lunchroom, to create a K-12 dishwasher grant program. The parameters of the bill were informed by a successful pilot at Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Glendale. While the bill itself was not signed, Senator Portantino succeeded in getting funding for this grant program in the 2023 state budget, so that all schools in California would have the opportunity to make this transition.

“We are sincerely thankful to Senator Portantino, the Legislature and Governor Newsom. Having the money to install industrial dishwashers will provide the opportunity for hundreds of schools in our state to move back to reusable foodware, which will not only prevent an enormous amount of single-use waste and related costs, but will also normalize reuse and conservation for tens of thousands of students in California. We are very grateful to Senator Portantino for taking on this bill—for listening to us and believing in us and working hard to get this funding allocated! Starting with an idea at Benjamin Franklin Magnet Elementary school in Glendale, a handful of parents and PTA members created a committee that grew into “Green Lunchroom”, which succeeded in launching a pilot dishwasher program with GUSD.  This model was the inspiration for SB-1255 the “dishwasher bill”.  Four years later, we are so happy that this opportunity will be available to school districts throughout our state thanks in large part to our representative listening to ideas from his community! Thank you Senator!”
– Monica Campagna, Glendale Environmental Coalition & Karen Hare Neilsson, Green Lunchroom

Commercial dishwashers use little water, heat to high temperatures for complete sanitation, dry quickly, and are fast and energy efficient.  Machines have a 15-year lifecycle, provide significant financial savings over time, and help future-proof district budgets from the rising costs of waste management and single-use disposable foodware. Installing a dishwasher is a wise financial investment. Franklin’s pilot demonstrated a savings of $7K annually. With this new funding resource covering upfront costs, schools could save more than $100,000 over the life of the dishwasher!

GEC thanks our partner Green Lunchroom and the many supporters and contributors to this proposal: Center for Environmental Health (who offer online workshops and a helpful “Ditching Disposables Toolkit” for school districts looking to move to reusables), Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, PTA Green Lunchroom Committee, Glendale Unified School District, Plastic Free Restaurants (who provide reusable foodware grants) and the many organizations that contributed to the original proposal for SB 1255, including 301 Organics, Ban SUP (Single Use Plastics), Californians Against Waste, Surfrider Foundation and local waste reduction experts from Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale and Los Angeles!

In addition to the above, we thank the over 35 cities and organizations that supported the original SB 1255 Bill, including: 5 Gyres Institute, California Product Stewardship Council, California School Employees Association (CSEA), City and County of San Francisco, the Cities of Alameda, Glendale and Los Angeles, Heal the Bay, Plastic Pollution Coalition and the Northern California Recycling Association.

Glendale Environmental Coalition now hopes that our California school districts will take full advantage of this opportunity. K-12 school parents out there: ask your Principal, Nutrition Services Director and Facilities Director to take advantage of this funding opportunity and make the switch! 


LEARN MORE:’s-statement-budget-agreement

Related Posts:

SB 1255 Letter to Supporters

SB 1255 (Portantino), which would have offered grants to K-12 Schools to purchase and install dishwashers to reduce waste and waste related costs, was vetoed by Governor Newsom, but hope lives on!

K-12 Dishwasher Grant Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk!

Portantino Dishwasher Bill Inspired by the Glendale Environmental Coalition Headed to the Governor’s Desk!

GEC Co-Sponsors SB 1255 (Portantino)

GEC is proud to have helped initiate and to co-sponsor Senator Portantino’s SB 1255: Grant Funding for Dishwashers for K-12 Schools and Community Colleges, to reduce single-use waste and related costs

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