August 25, 2015
School Officials Turn to Dumpster Diving to Find Out What Students Are Actually Eating
Cafeteria workers in Georgia’s Gwinnett County school district have begun sorting through the trash to find out what students are actually eating during lunch — an effort to see whether the schools’ nutrition goals are actually being met.
“We randomly select trays as kids are finished with their meals, put them off to the side, and then analyze,” Karen Hallford, Gwinnett County Schools’ coordinator of nutrition support and procurement, told WXIA-TV.
The new menu includes items like chicken nuggets with whole-grain breading, black bean pizza, and more vegetables — initiatives made as a result of school lunch reforms from first lady Michelle Obama, the importance of which have been called a matter of national security.
“It’s just plain common sense,” retired Air Force veteran Norman Seip once said of healthier school lunch guidelines.
Among the discoveries made by cafeteria employees was the fact that children often pick whole fruit but rarely eat it, opting to toss it in the trash instead. In response, the school will try sliced fresh fruit instead, and recently cut costs by eliminating cheese-stuffed pizza crusts, which kids also threw out.