When I was younger, attending school, the cafeteria was always an interesting place. It was a melting pot of every class. It included those older and younger than me, friends I didn’t have classes with, the kids being punished in ISS, the “slow” kids who had their separate classes. Even the teachers… The cafeteria was the great equalizer. Unless you brought your lunch.
Bringing your lunch in the late 70s and early 80s made you stand out. Whether it was in those ubiquitous metal cans with the superhero de jour, or as I aged, in those same brown paper sacks bums use to hide their liquor in the alley. You were a nerd, a geek, an outcast, just for refusing the glop put out by the lunchroom. So, I was a picky eater, isn’t that my choice?
Today it’s different. As I spend some time in schools (not voluntarily, mind you – I served my 12 year sentence in public school, I sure don’t want to go back again), I noticed something. Bringing your lunch no longer qualifies you for life in “cooty town”. LL Bean even makes decorative lunch bags that match their backpacks. I’m sure some more expensive brands probably do… but not being a brand-whore, I couldn’t say.
Which brings me to the point of my rambling exposition –
What the Hell happened to the old plastic lunch trays? I noticed at lunch the other day that the students who DO eat school food are getting disposable Styrofoam lunch trays. When they finish eating, they just toss the whole thing in the trash. Nine hundred kids times 180 school days = 168000 of those trays a year, from one school, in the trash. In the parlance of youth, OMG! WTF?
Again, when I was young, the trays were a sort of a marbleized looking plastic thing, seemingly melted together from tiny bits of other plastic things. They were green (ish) or brown (ish) or other muted colors. Sometimes they even came hot from the dishwasher. When you finished eating you joined the line at the washing window, deposited your trash in the trash, and slid the tray through for cleaning. End of story.
I understand that toss-away trays are probably cheaper than paying someone to wash all the extra trays. As it stands, all the workers can wash and clean after lunch is over. But isn’t being environmentally responsible worth the expense? And no, I’m not talking about the global warming myth. I’m just saying, throwing away all that needless trash should stop. After all, the sinks are automatic, there is no hot water in the bathrooms, and there isn’t a paper towel to be found in the building (“Oh that’s because the kids are wasteful and they make lots of trash”). How much would it really cost a school district to give one extra dishwasher to the lunch program? Raise the price of lunch by a nickel. Its already the cheapest lunch you can find anywhere. You can’t eat taco bell for what school lunch costs.
This is like a parent smoking, while telling their kid “Smoking is (cough) bad for you! Don’t do it!”.