The garbage can test: How CMSD is keeping lunches out of the trash

CLEVELAND - Every day, Americans waste enough food to fill a 90 thousand seat football stadium. That's larger than FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

And when it comes to school lunches, there's debate over whether healthy food ends up in the trash or the bellies of students.

Some schools teach about food waste in science class, others re-name foods to make them more appealing. But when it comes to our local schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District thinks they've come up with some creative ideas.

First, the “sharing table” in every cafeteria. This is where unwanted food can be placed and picked up.

“So, instead of throwing it in the garbage, we say share it with one of your friends,” says Chris Burkhardt, the food and nutrition director for CMSD.

For example, an unwanted orange or milk can be picked up by another student who is still hungry or wants a second serving.

Watching what happens with these food experiments is part of what Burkhardt does, and even though they're trying creative measures, he says the USDA is still considering not making fruit mandatory.

For the pickiest eaters, they've also come up with clear lunch boxes.

If a kid refuses to eat the hot food served, they can grab the collection of snack-like items, like string cheese, applesauce and whole grain crackers -- which meet all federal nutrition standards.

Burkhardt says he’s noticed a difference in the amount of cafeteria waste and believes kids are trying the healthier foods.

“At the end of the day, the garbage can is the true test. So we always look at the garbage can," he said.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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