DENVER (KDVR) — One metro area school district is making a change to be more sustainable, at least when it comes to the cafeteria.
This week is National School Lunch Week, and Cherry Creek School District is serving up green in the lunchroom. But it’s not just broccoli, it’s new compostable lunch trays.
The current standard is Styrofoam trays, but the new ones are made of molded fiber that feels similar to an egg carton. They are made of recycled materials and can be composted.
Cherry Creek School District ran a pilot program with the trays for part of last year, and now they have rolled them out in all schools district-wide.
They are a pretty significant investment, the Styrofoam cost about 5 cents a tray and the compostable is about 13 cents a tray.
However, with the district’s overall goal of being more sustainable Shannon Thompson, the Food Nutrition Services assistant director of Cherry Creek Schools, believes the cost is worthwhile.
“Absolutely worthwhile. We know that Styrofoam is not the way to go and that we need to make those changes, so this is a great time to be able to do that. I think, over time of course, it’s investing back into our environment and making sure to be sustainable and that’s going to pay off in the future for our students,” said Thompson.
She’s hoping that the more districts that get on board the cheaper the trays become.
Thompson said that district-wide they serve a little over 5,000 breakfasts and about 20,000 lunches every day. That’s more than 125,000 trays being sent to the landfill every week.
Thompson said the kids have noticed and they’re already having conversations with their teachers and with nutrition specialists about this change, so they turn into an educational tool as well.
The schools still use single-use plastic utensils and other items, but their goal is to continue reducing waste by looking into it more and being more eco-friendly.
“We don’t have straws, so that’s the one thing that we’ve already taken care of. We do look at all those pieces because there are a lot of different things that we have to use for portioning fruit and vegetables and things like that. So, the more that we can get away from that, the more that it’s just gonna be better for the environment in general,” said Thompson.
They’re even looking into getting a composter at a few schools so students can learn about that process as well.