Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Food wasted at Dunning elementary school

 I volunteered to monitor the food kids throw in the Black Forest compost bin for a pilot program. I was there for all the different grade lunches for 2 months or so.  The experience was enlightening and somewhat painful at the same time. My job was to make sure the unwanted food that the kids dumped in the cart was free from food stickers, plastics of any kind, spoons, forks and wrappers. The administration, teachers, teachers aids and the janitorial staff have it down to a science. The kids all get along and have respect for each other and the school personal it appears to me.

But the shear amount of food thrown away every day there and most likely every elementary school is just beyond belief.  While there are so many groups in Town trying to feed the food challenged, immigrants staying in hotels and many children who's only meal of the day is breakfast and lunch at school, we seem to except the amount of perfectly nutritious foods like, green beans, broccoli, milk, cereals, carrots, apples and oranges going to waste. I wonder if parents realize their kids are not eating and wonder how many parents would eat the same food their kids get.

I estimate that around 100 lbs of food went into the compost cart each week. Black earth picked up the cart twice a week with about 50 lbs twice a week. 

I was shocked to see outdated food, milk, juice and veggies. But happy to see the little kids point out the expiration dates on the milks, juice and carrots. 

I witnessed kids having two lunches, one from home and one at the school just toss the entire plate of food in the compost bin. Talk about wasteful. The problem may be the free lunch and breakfast everyone gets. Not only is it served on a piece of non recyclable undercoated cardboard but the food is cold by the time the kids sit down to eat. I was very surprised to see most of the kids didn't touch the mac and cheese. What kids don't like it? My kids and grand kids eat it and so do we, but this mac and cheese stuck to the cardboard plate, solidified into a hard pile of cheese that had to be scrapped out of the plate. I wouldn't eat it at all. When I asked a few kids why they didn't like mac and cheese a few said they do like it but not the way the school makes it. One youngster said he liked Kraft mac and cheese at home.

I supported the idea of free lunch for everyone and still do. If your poor you shouldn't have to eat a different lunch than those who can pay. But there needs to be some rational discussion with food service, parents and school officials regarding the quality and delivery of the school meals.


At March 2, 2024 at 4:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame. Thanks for letting us know.


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