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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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Awesome Job! You did really well! After reading your artical, I will bring my own cutlery to eat with and if I can't finish it, I will bring it home to eat when I get hungry or share with my family.

Maria, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:52 AM EST

I think you Eco Reporters are doing great and I encourage you to keep coming up with ideas to make the world a better and cleaner place.

Matthew, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:52 AM EST

I think all these things are great ways to reduce garbage.

Vicente, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:53 AM EST

I will make a comitement to bringing and using my own utensils from home. I always use reusable/washable contaners for my snack other than fruits, like oranges that I can compost the peels.

Jade , BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:53 AM EST

Good ideas Eco Reporters! Your suggestions will really help Westcot Elementry be a greener place. Since I go to Westcot, from now on, I will bring cutlery from home even though I may get plastic cutlery with my food.

Kaylen, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:53 AM EST

Great Job Eco Reporters,

Cole and I both do not get hot lunch on both days, though I do on Wednesday. Cole sometimes goes to the kitchen to get TCBY on both hot lunch days. We think that we can both bring our own spoons for our TCBY. Since I do not get meals that involve forks, then we can both bring utencils for our treat.

Great paragraphs Blaise,Tanner,Alexandra,and Jenna

Cole and Ashley, BC
Posted at May 04 2012 at 6:53 AM EST

fantastic photos!wow

eco club
Posted at December 06 2012 at 6:41 AM EST

WOW this is awesome less forks and plastic spoons in the landfill!?

Collin , TX
Posted at January 02 2013 at 5:38 AM EST

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