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Reinvestment Fund helps Children's Enrichment Center become more sustainable

The littlest Lakers will be joining in Grand Valley State University’s commitment to saving the environment now that the Children’s Enrichment Center on the Allendale campus received funds to buy nondisposable dinnerware.

“I am very happy to have the CEC sharing in this campus initiative,” said Sharalle V. Arnold, director of the Children’s Enrichment Center. “This partnership will help us improve our sustainability efforts and lend itself to some edifying conversations with the young children and families that we serve.”

The money for the CEC’s project comes from the Sustainable Community Reinvestment Fund, which was created last year.

“The fund provides start-up capital in the form of grants and loans for projects that will add value to the campus community, such as energy savings or recycling initiatives,” said Bart Bartels, project manager for the GVSU Sustainable Community Development Initiative. “The idea is to funnel cost savings back into the fund and build it up over time.”

Jessica Miranda-Bevier, program assistant for the Children’s Enrichment Center, put together the application for the funding and calculated that approximately 2,500 pieces of disposable dinnerware were being thrown away each week.

By requesting $507 from the Reinvestment Fund, the CEC would experience a 50 to 66 percent drop in waste production and would save roughly $3,334.32 per year.

In addition to purchasing the dishes, they have purchased a cart to help with cleanup.

Bartels said that he is very pleased with this project and hopes that other departments and organizations in the GVSU community take notice of what the CEC has done and trigger more ideas for sustainable projects.

“The CEC project is exactly what we had in mind when the Reinvestment Fund was created,” Bartels said. “The project provides education to children about reducing environmental impact and does so while saving almost $4,000 per year.”

Bartels also pointed out that this project will only take two months to accrue savings and return the loan back to the Reinvestment Fund. And after the loan is repaid, the CEC will have additional funds available in its operating budget.

But this project is not just a benefit for the environment and the CEC’s budget. Miranda-Bevier said that they will be using this project as the first of many opportunities to teach the children about the benefits of sustainability.

“We want to extend that into our classrooms, into our community,” Miranda-Bevier said. “We want to teach them, the children and their families, about recycling, about waste, and about sustainability.”

Miranda-Bevier hopes to next work on adding composting to the CEC’s project lists, to better dispose of the food waste produced during mealtimes.

Staff at the Children’s Enrichment Center have already begun working on making changes for the switch to nondisposable dinnerware and the new program will begin this summer.

“I’m glad that they’re validating what we’re doing here and that they are taking our project seriously,” Miranda-Bevier said. “In the larger scheme of things, it may look like a little thing, but they see the value and are willing to support us.”

assistantnews@lanthorn.com



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