Whether eating cafeteria food or bringing lunch from home, not many students are excited about school lunch. In fact, a survey conducted by Shawna De La Rosa found that “U.S. school food waste totals 530,000 tons per year and costs as much as $9.7 million a day to manage, which breaks down to about 39.2 pounds of food waste and 19.4 gallons of milk thrown out per school per year”. This may be because school lunch is dissed as “gross” or “unappealing”. To lessen the waste of school lunch (and perhaps improve the environment in the long run), chef Bruno (whose last name remains anonymous) provides some tips.
Focus on Presentation: Whether through organization or color-coding, Bruno suggests to present the food in an appealing manner. Specifically, he suggests “color coding fruits based on your child’s favorite hues”. For example, place strawberries in a red piece of Tupperware or a turkey sandwich in a white piece of Tupperware as the colors match. This will appeal to the child’s eyes, increasing the likelihood of the child not dumping the food.
Let Kids Pack School Lunch: “Designate a place to keep the Termos, cold pack, fruit, beverages, and everything else they need and let the kids take the reigns”, says Bruno. This will increase the child’s confidence as they have the ability to create the lunch they desire. Keep everything in reach of the child and you may want to hide away the junk food too!
Create “Viral Lunches”: Allowing social media to aid in developing school lunch allows the child to feel mainstream as well as makes building lunch easier. Bruno reports that the current trending lunch food is the “Tortilla Fold Hack” which involves packing a tortilla shell with ingredients and folding it once like a sandwich rather than wrapping it like a burrito. “This social media hack is easy to make, customizable, and holds up well in a lunch bag”, says Bruno.
Freeze School Lunch Before Taking it to School: This requires a bit of preparation, but Bruno suggests making lunch a few hours before school and placing it in the freezer as it keeps school lunch cold and fresh, improving it’s taste and quality at lunchtime. Bruno especially recommends a “Frutly” drink as “It’s filling and packed with vitamins and materials, especially when cold”.
Districts across the country have been seeking ways of lessening or eliminating school lunch waste. While some have suggested using the lunch as compost, many agree it is best to end throwing away lunch in the first place. Perhaps through implementing Bruno’s strategies into the households, they can increase kid’s self esteem about lunch and, in turn, create a safer environment, free of lunch waste and full of smiles at lunchtime!