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Posted: 03/12/14

GREENER OPTIONS. Above, Hevel Elementary teachers Suzanne Trush and Joanne Stein help their students, Bobby Quinn, Dominic Carpenter and Reese Carmody, present their case for switching out Styrofoam lunch trays for an environmentally-friendly alternative. Below, Carpenter provides a petition signed by students to Board President Ed Sosnoski on March 3 asking to replace Styrofoam lunch trays.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Students seek other
options for lunch trays

Observer Staff Writer
      Students are aiming to convince the Board of Education to make lunch a more eco-friendly activity at school.
       Suzanne Trush, a kindergarten teacher at Hevel Elementary, said when applying to become a Michigan Green School, one project the school could do was to have students approach the board about a topic. In this case, the use of Styrofoam trays for serving lunch.
       Trush's classroom teamed up with fourth-grade teacher Joanne Stein's students to write letters to the board.
       "We're willing to do research or write more letters to change what we can use in the lunchroom," she said.
       Reese Carmody, one of Stein's students, informed the school board at its March 3 meeting that the Styrofoam trays for hot lunches are non-reusable.
       "It would help our Earth and we wouldn't use so many trays if we use reusable ones," she said.
       The two classes joined up to write persuasive letters to convince the board to examine the issue. Fourth-grade student Bobby Quinn read one such letter.
       "If we keep using more Styrofoam and throwing it out, the Earth will soon be covered in garbage," he said.
       A petition signed by students was given to the board for consideration of a different type of tray. Trush said ideas for replacements could be plastic trays that could be cleaned or cardboard trays that can be recycled.
       "You figure how many lunches that you serve at one school, a few hundred, and you multiply that times five and Hevel alone will probably throw out 1,000 trays a week," she said.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said to switch back to plastic trays would likely cost more, but administrators could research the numbers and hygienic aspects of it.
       "I love the idea of the project," she said.
       Monica Kaplan, the district's child nutrition supervisor, agreed there are extra expenses for cleaning reusable trays, but liked the idea of exploring biodegradable options.
       Vice-president Sara Murray said the use of Styrofoam trays has bothered her, so she was glad the students brought it to the board.
       "I didn't understand why we didn't use plastic because you can wipe them down and reuse them instead of throwing out so much garbage," she said.
       Other green-themed activities at Hevel Elementary have included building a village out of upcycled materials and projects centered around decomposition and cleaning oil spills.
       Schools in the Michigan Green Schools program earn points by participating in eco-friendly education and activities. If enough points are amassed a school is given a certification. Romeo High School and Indian Hills Elementary already participate in the program.

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