Students at Pattison Elementary in the Milford, OH, school district voted to replace traditional Styrofoam lunch trays with a biodegradeable alternative made from sugar cane. The students were second-graders who were part of a pilot Project Citizen Program last year.
The district’s Coordinator of Gifted, Deborah Glynn, coached the students as they reviewed and researched a school policy they wanted to change in their school and they decided to change the lunch trays. The students began the project, which included interviews, letters to experts, surveys and research, by looking at ways they wanted to improve their school. After looking at several options, such as longer lunch times and extended recess(!), the students chose to change the lunch trays.
They weighed the pros and cons of different alternatives—even having District Nutrition Services Director Gerry Levy in to give his thoughts. Eventually, the students agreed that the trays made from sugar cane byproducts were the best alternative. They made their presentation to Milford Superintendent Dr. Robert Farrell, Pattison Principal Gregg Curless and Nutrition Services Director Levy, who agreed to launch a pilot program using only sugar cane lunch trays starting this school year. If successful, the entire district may switch next year.
To accommodate the 1.5 cents greater cost per tray, Nutrition Services cut some of the higher cost food offerings and made some staffing changes to ensure the dining program at Pattison stays on budget. The students’ display and portfolio about the project was displayed in the Ohio State House during the Project Citizen event. (Pictures can be seen here.)