Blue tables sit outdoors on a sunny afternoon at Oakland High School. The tables are behind a wall with the words, "writer", "diplomat", "activist" and other professions painted in yellow writing.

After the Oakland Unified Schools District (OUSD) eliminated the district’s free supper program in 2018, student organizers from Oakland Kids First, a city organization that supports youth organizing and campaign work, and the OUSD Superintendent’s Office teamed up to recover and revamp the program.

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pumpkingarbage

Right now, somewhere on your block, a pumpkin is rotting. If you’re lucky, that somewhere is in a Waste Management-sanctioned green bin, where it can safely decay with other compostable trash, and not on your front porch. It is mid-November, after all. This time of year, pumpkins become a major player in the composting program…

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Five days a week, a long chrome truck pulls up to EBMUD’s wastewater treatment plant. It lifts its hydraulic-powered trailer bed and proceeds to dump 40,000 pounds of what looks like thick sewage into a giant underground mixer. Strangely, it smells … good. Not what you’d typically imagine for a sewage plant.

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