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Hot Lunch Comes to Westcot in New Ways

by Alexandra, Blaise, Jenna, & Tanner — Westcot Elementary, West Vancouver, BC

March 2012

Eco-Friendly Hot Lunch Vendors

Students having lunch

Westcot Elementary is trying to make sure that not only is the school being eco-friendly but our hot lunch vendors are eco-friendly too. The vendors for hot lunch include Euphoria Caters, Sushi Katsu and Magic Lunch Box. Most of the vendors have eco-friendly packaging, which is a big change. Last year the vendors had non-recyclable plastic containers or waxy cardboard. That means all the containers go straight to the garbage. "My food is organic and my containers are biodegradable" says George Praego, owner of Euphoria Caters. So this year, some containers are recyclable and compostable! Unfortunately, we still have some containers that are made of that waxy cardboard that must go into the garbage. It is important that the vendors use eco- friendly containers so that we continue to reduce garbage on hot lunch days.

Secondly, some of the vendors provide organic food which saves the environment and helps us be healthier. Susan Grey, the Hot Lunch Coordinator, points out some of the advantages of serving organic food in schools: "it’s getting kids healthier and there are fewer bad chemicals in your body". This is helping the school because if you eat organic food you become healthier and if you are healthy you learn better. We know from past experience that chemicals like pesticides negatively impact the environment.

A disadvantage or obstacle to being eco-friendly is the cost. George and Susan point out the accesive cost for the containers. Secondly, heating up certain food in the oven is inconvenient because some types of lids melt or burn under intense heat.

Waste Not Want Not: How to Pull the Plug on Hot Lunch Food Waste

Students taking tupperware home

At our school we are trying to reduce food and container waste and most intermediate students are getting the message. Out of 81 intermediate kids who get hot lunch, 70 will either be bringing their left over lunch home to finish or finishing the whole thing at lunch time. That means that only 11 kids in the intermediate classes are throwing out some part of their lunch. Unfortunately, Westcot does not have facilities to recycle plastic containers. Therefore, in order for those containers to be recycled, we are hoping that students bring them home to either reuse or to recycle in their family blue recycling bins. However, when we asked students, most said they haven’t committed to making this change. Fortunately, we surveyed the school so that now we know what we need to do to improve.

It’s a different story downstairs, in the primary classes. First of all, too much food is wasted in the Hot Lunch Program. For example, only thirty four out of sixty kids finish their hot lunch. Moreover, four out of twelve students in grade two finish their hot lunch. This evidence tells us that many students are getting too much food. Solutions to this problem could be hot lunch menus having two meal sizes- small and large. Having this would help the younger students to not waste their food. Alternatively, students could take their leftover food home to finish or give to a family member. Secondly, too many lunch containers are not recycled. For instance, only twenty four out of thirty kids take their hot lunch containers home to recycle. These statistics tell us that most containers are put in the garbage. Solutions to this issue could be for the school to supply a recycling bin for plastics. As well, the vendors should take back packaging to reuse like stores do with bottles and cans. Also, the school is encouraging students to take their hot lunch containers home to recycle. To conclude, we need to take action in reducing the amount of garbage such as finishing our lunch, and recycling our containers.

Westcot’s Cutlery Crisis

Lunch container

Cutlery creates a lot of unnecessary garbage on hot lunch days in Westcot School. So that’s why our principal, Ms. Hill, started asking us students to bring in their own forks and spoons on Fridays and Wednesdays. But, I’m not so sure this is as easy as it sounds as only 31 kids out of 180 intermediate students brought forks and spoons on Friday Jan 13th when my fellow eco reporter and I interviewed classes. We think that one of the reasons why kids aren’t using their own utensils is because they already know that they will be getting plastic cutlery because on Kids Eat day and Asian day vendors still pack plastic disposable cutlery in each paper bag. The other days either no cutlery is needed (pizza & quesadillas) or small spoons are handed out for TCBY’s frozen yogurt.

As well, we have notified the hot lunch coordinator that we think vendors should stop packing cutlery but some still are. If every student in the school were to bring their own cutlery, we could keep about 300 forks or spoons out of the landfills on hot lunch days. That would be 600 forks and spoons a week that we could keep out of the landfills! I interviewed Christina Towfigh, our parent school president to ask her why Westcot is introducing this new rule: bring your own cutlery. She said that in order for our school to move towards being a greener school that cares about the environment and our impact on it, we have to look at our waste that we are producing. Mrs. Towfigh said that we started a couple of years ago by encouraging students to bring their lunches and snacks in reusable containers and to not use disposable ones like plastic bags and wrappers. Now Wescot’s going after cutlery. Mrs. Towfigh said that, therefore, our school could make a significant change in our garbage levels if we brought our own cutlery.

Leave a comment

[This article has 28 responses]
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You have done a terrific job of identifying the problems and suggesting some really practical solutions! It sounds as though there have been some very positive changes as a result of your efforts.
The idea of bringing cutlery from home is a good one, but it may be that making it a rule is the best way of helping people to remember.
Thank you for helping to make a difference!

Ms Chartres, BC
Posted at March 29 2012 at 5:51 AM EST


Posted at April 16 2012 at 8:00 AM EST

you girls are awesome eco girls great job

ching pink, HI
Posted at April 16 2012 at 8:00 AM EST

That sounds interesting.Great job.

Kristopher , VA
Posted at May 01 2012 at 5:46 AM EST

Great that was just brilliant!!

Posted at May 03 2012 at 9:56 AM EST

I'm part of the ecoreporters too! we did a great job

blaise, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:49 AM EST

I'm commited to bringing forks and spoons because I want to help the enviroment and I wrote that paragraph!

Blaise :)
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:49 AM EST

From now on, I will take my plastic lunch containers home to recycle on hot lunch days.

MinJun, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:49 AM EST

After reading this article I decied to recycle, reduce, reuse.

Roxana, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:49 AM EST

After we read this article, me and my friend will be bringing our own forks and spoons to school. The reason why were doing this, is to reduce cultury waste. Me and my partner will bring extra forks and spoons to our classroom,just in case other people have forgotten it.I am sure both our class, and our school, will be going GREEN. From now on, we will be taking

Yas & Sylvia, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:50 AM EST

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