BLOG: Plate Waste
Author: Amelia Karges
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Back in October, the interns all took part in a plate waste research study, conducted to evaluate aspects of the HELP-SLPS (Healthy Eating with Local Produce for St. Louis Public Schools) grant. After an afternoon of training and background on the study, we went as a team to Columbia & Cleveland High Schools to gather baseline data.
Interns were in charge of measuring plate waste from three of the main food stations available in the cafeteria, “Play Bowl,” “Casa Amigos,” and “Crust & Stuff.” Most of the high school students were very curious about what 34 extra people were doing in their cafeteria, so a handful of interns mingled among the cafeteria tables to explain what exactly we were doing and how they could help make the process go more smoothly. Even so, we all had to work very hard to intercept students before they snuck out of the cafeteria, throwing away their leftovers along the way. An assembly line of interns at each of the three stations began with someone recording what each student bought form the cafeteria, followed by an assessment of waste percentage, a photo of each plate and separation of wasted foods into specific containers to be weighed and interpreted as data. Pizza seemed to be a big seller and there were rarely scraps. But, I think all of us were surprised by the amount of fresh fruits (especially apples! Gasp.) that came to the waste table, untouched.
Eventually, after HELP begins providing applesauce for the schools, they will conclude whether or not the local produce has affected plate waste among students.
It was a fun morning/afternoon for us not only to help with a research study, but also to get out into the community. (Not to mention we got an extra long lunch break that day, which we all appreciated!!!) We are always striving to get the word out about Nutrition & Dietetics, so hopefully spending the day in the cafeteria among the students sparked some interest in at least a few minds!