Food waste distresses students and staff


Sheyda Ladjevardi

Following lunch and brunch, leftover food is thrown into the nearest trash can, or even left on the floor, without a second thought.

Students at DVHS appear to be wasting large amounts of food, and some point the finger at dissatisfaction with low quality free lunches and a distaste for healthier options. The SRVUSD nutrition team is forced to discard uneaten lunches.

“I do know that a lot of food is wasted … kids usually like to even throw food on the ground,” says senior Samyuktha Natesan. She sees glimpses of a lot of plastic as well, squandered on the ground or in a trash can, as most school food is wrapped in plastic.

A method that is currently being utilized to diminish food waste involves using ID number verification.

“I think one thing that they’re doing now is getting your ID number to see that you’ve only bought lunch once,” senior Ananya Dasannacharya stated. She went on to say that in the 2021-2022 school year, kids wouldn’t make use of ID numbers to verify how many times they got a school lunch. Therefore, they were able to grab a second lunch or second breakfast for no cost, which may have contributed to the increased levels of food waste.

With ID authentication, students are only allowed to take one meal  (a breakfast and a lunch) for free. If a student were to get a second meal, they would have to pay for their food. School officials hope to avoid wasting food by students only taking an amount that they are able to eat.

According to SRVUSD Child Nutrition Manager Stephanie Curry, “It tends to depend on the day. Some lunch options are more popular with students while others, not so much– and that decides the amount of leftovers we have on certain days.”

Even after several attempts by SRVUSD, it is difficult to remedy the problem of campus litter because discarding uneaten lunches poses a threat of its own.

The dissatisfaction with some of the lunch options and their perceived low quality has a huge hand in the rapid escalation of food waste on campus.

Even after several attempts by SRVUSD, it is difficult to remedy the problem of campus litter because discarding uneaten lunches poses a threat of its own.

“There is a lot [of food] that ends up in our garbage cans and isn’t donated, [even though] many people around the world and in our community need food,” Child Nutrition Assistant Silvera Lourdes said. Donating lunches after school each day, while helping those with food insecurity, is of great inconvenience to schools. Hence, the district is looking for more feasible options.

New ways to reduce food waste are constantly being developed and put into place in hopes of them being beneficial to all students. SRVUSD’s school nutrition departments are optimizing their best efforts into minimizing this issue. However, many emphasize that the carelessness of students and the aversion of the lunch options are adding on to the problem. Although new solutions such as ID card authentication have been implemented, and the district is looking into donating leftovers, the number of wasted lunches increases daily.

“Just seeing so many lunches on the floors of the Commons and in the trash cans really hurts,” Lourdes expressed. In addition to a concern among nutrition employees, both students and staff are well aware of the problems that food waste poses.