Are Wayne Hills Students Wasting Too Much Food?


Wayne Hills student at lunch

By Stephanie Tulpan, Staff Writer

Americans tend to turn a blind eye to one of the country’s most damaging crises: extreme food waste. Though, local Wayne Hills students have been doing what they can to put an end to this issue everyday.

Globally, the human population wastes approximately 1.4 billion pounds of food every year. On average, about eighty of these pounds come from America, making the United States the most wasteful out of every country in the world. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration kept an eye on the circulation of America’s food waste and came out with the statement: “Food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply.”

Companies and manufacturers are a major part of the problem. Industries are selective when it comes to what food they use, and often end up throwing away food that does not have the desired characteristics. According to PBS News, “Sometimes, the food that gets left in the field is a little too big or a little too small. If you’re selling potatoes to a french fry factory, they need those potatoes to be a certain size, shape, and weight.”

Though, companies aren’t the only culprits responsible for this problem: American citizens are guilty of wasting food everyday. Each year, the average American throws away about 219 pounds of food. The┬ástems of green beans that you cut off, remaining meat on chicken wing bones that you disregard, and the crust of your sandwich that you throw away at lunch all make the everyday American part of the problem.

Food waste is also a concern in schools. At lunch everyday, students throw away the food they do not want to eat, much of which can be eaten. Most of this food comes from their homes as well as from lunches made in school. The reasons behind this extreme waste consists of students simply not being hungry enough to finish their food, running out of time to eat, and sometimes just not liking what is on their plate.

Wayne Hills High School students are careful about not contributing to the problem. Sodexo, the company that provides food and drink for the Wayne Schools District, makes sure that students waste as little food as possible. They keep an eye on how much food students eat, and distribute their portion sizes accordingly. Ms. Nancy, who works in the Wayne Hills cafeteria, confirmed Sodexo’s strategy: “We know how many servings you guys normally take. We get to know our audience, so we do very well at knowing the numbers we have. We rarely have any waste at all.” Because students are taking as much food as they will eat and don’t generally have extra on their plate, little food is being thrown away.

Sophomore Maddie Wolke attested to the little amount of food wasted at lunch each day: “Honestly, I don’t think there is much food waste, just because my friends and I always finish our lunches.”

Though, this was not always the case. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government decided to hand out free lunches to every public school student, while considering the financial situations of many families due to pandemic turmoil. Because the government gave out these lunches for free, they were made in bulk and students were required to take fruits and vegetables with every meal. Ms. Nancy said, “Free and reduced… when you’re in that program, you have to have vegetables, fruit, and all that and that’s what children don’t love. That waste was on you guys; we just didn’t know everyone’s situation at home.” Students were not hesitant to throw away food they did not like, and collectively ended up wasting more food than the average school year.

Sodexo and Wayne Hills students are determined to not be part of the problem, and continue to do their best to find a solution to this worldwide crisis.