School lunches: Wanted, unwanted, or wasted? Food services offers insight

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School lunches: Wanted, unwanted, or wasted? Food services offers insight

Remains from an everyday school lunch, uneaten dried cranberries. Photo by Breanna Narlock.

Remains from an everyday school lunch, uneaten dried cranberries. Photo by Breanna Narlock.

Remains from an everyday school lunch, uneaten dried cranberries. Photo by Breanna Narlock.

Remains from an everyday school lunch, uneaten dried cranberries. Photo by Breanna Narlock.

Breanna Narlock, Editor

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  In about 22 minutes one garbage can fills up in the lunchroom. 12 garbages flank in the lunchroom. After about 25 minutes the garbage is brimming over the edge, a portion of that being uneaten food.

  The uneaten food ranges from applesauce cups, fruits, vegetables, and Craisin packets. All items students take to fulfill the meal requirement standard.

  Supervisor of School Nutrition Program, Laticia Baudhuin, oversees the food service department for the DC Everest School district.

  “All of the quantities of the food served to the students are regulated and predetermined by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)… and we serve different quantities of food based on the determined grade groups,” said Baudhuin.

  According to Nutrislice, the website the school uses to display all nutritional information and the menu for the schools, an entree is only  two dollars. The cost for a whole meal which includes milk, fruit, vegetables and an entree is two dollars and ten cents.

  Baudhuin said a technique used in order to get students to take a full meal instead of just an entree is using the price for a single entree compared to the price for a full meal. The USDA wants the prices set higher for a la carte items, so students are more encouraged to take the full meal over individual items.

   “No numbers can be put to the amount of waste produced over the course of the three lunches daily, but the amount is alarming,” said Baudhuin.

      Adding all three grades together makes a total of 1,252 students attending the Senior High School daily. If half of the student body eats lunch daily, in one week the amount of plastic utensils is over 3,000. If three-fourths of the student body eats lunch daily, in one week the amount of plastic utensils is over 4,500 estimated.

  “Students and the district as a whole are wasting a lot of plastic with kids, but I think that metal silver would be way easier to use and a lot cheaper,” said Jessica Isakson, junior.

    Students have the potential to step in and make some of the changes. Like having a student monitor or start a system for monitoring silverware so it is not thrown away.

  “I am honestly not sure why we use plastic cutlery at the SRHS.  We also use plastic at the JRHS and MS, but we use regular silverware at all of the elementary schools.  Yes, we would certainly be willing to change if it was a student-led initiative,” said Baudhuin. “One of the biggest issues we find with silverware is that kids will end up throwing away metal silverware a lot.  At the elementary level, the garbages are monitored by a lunch aid or a custodian, so this isn’t so much of a problem.”

   Another idea that is being discussed is creating a bin for unused food, so students who do not eat it do not just throw it away but have the opportunity to leave it for another student to eat.

  “Starting a bin (for unused food) is a great idea, then there isn’t as much food waste and other students that are hungry can have a snack without paying more. It would benefit everyone,” said Baudhuin.

  For each of the costs of the meal that the student pays, there is a monetary reimbursement from the government, said Baudhuin. It works out that the USDA made regulations on how we can price all of the food, like the a la carte items.   

   “There should be opinions [about food], it is your guys food and it is funny because everybody eats three times a day so everyone  should have an opinion on the food they eat food,” said Baudhuin.

  Talking about school lunches and concerns you have is encouraged by lunch ladies as it makes for a healthier lunch, and it is suggested that if you see food that is inedible to say something.

  “I eat lunch on a regular basis, and for the most part it is good, just some days the food isn’t the best quality, either being cold or it looks old,” said Elizabeth Powers, sophomore.

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