Eat some, waste some: Boise study shows new school lunch program increases fruit-waste and fruit-consumption
Nearly half the pineapple served to the students at one Boise elementary school during one lunch period on one day this fall went uneaten. But at Grace Jordan Elementary – where one kid’s trash is the district’s science project – at least it Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Nearly half the pineapple served to the students at one Boise elementary school during one lunch period on one day this fall went uneaten. But at Grace Jordan Elementary – where one kid’s trash is the district’s science project – at least it didn’t go to waste.
Boise assigned an intern to weigh all the fruit it served and then collect and weigh all the fruit kids tossed out at two different schools on three different days.
“I think anybody who has parented kids knows how difficult it is to get kids to eat something they don’t want to eat,” Boise School District dietitian Christy Smith said.
The results from the district’s plate-waste study showed kids didn’t want to eat nearly half of all the fruit the district required them to take.
“We have a wider variety of fruits and vegetables,” Middleton freshman RaeLynn Thompson said.
That’s more fruit and veggies for Thompson – in a different district but following the same lunch program – to devour and for many of her peers to trash.
“They’re mostly the ones who are complaining about not having enough so I think it’s a little bit ironic,” Thompson said.
Grace Jordan wastes an estimated 36 more pounds of fruit every day this year than it did in 2010. But the new data also shows Grace Jordan kids eat 22 more pounds of fruit every day than they did in 2010.
More fruit served, more fruit wasted and more fruit eaten equals a nearly identical ratio of consumption to waste pre- and post-new school lunch program, meaning kids grow healthier and piles of compost grow taller.
“What are we doing to try and control those wastes?” Boise parent K.C. Warner said.
Well, this study to start. The district tracks fruit-consumption and – for the first time this year – vegetable-consumption to see what kids do and don’t eat and how that changes.
The hope: That kids adjust and eat even more fruits and vegetables – thereby also limiting what gets wasted.
“Often times,” Boise School District dietitian Peggy Bodnar said, “it takes 10-12 times when a child tries a food item before they start liking it.”
“Hopefully,” Smith said, “with more and more exposure they’ll start to eat it.”
Boise also tracked vegetable waste. Kids ate more than 70 percent of the veggies on their trays, but the district only began recording vegetable data this year so we couldn’t compare consumption and waste in that food group to previous school years.