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More ‘Good Food’ brings compostable plates to LAUSD

Craig Clough | May 22, 2015

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compostable-cardboard-plate-2015LA Unified will begin phasing out polystyrene trays this month, replacing them with environmentally friendly compostable plates.

The change comes as part of the district’s membership in the Urban School Food Alliance  (USFA), along with New York, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando. The cities have banded to implement healthier and more environmentally sound food choices while using their combined purchasing power to keep costs down.

The move to compostable trays is just the latest change at the lunch table at LA Unified after the passage of the school board’s “Good Food” resolution in 2014, which called on the district to team with the USFA and only buy antibiotic free chicken, reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar in student meals and only use vendors that meet certain environmental standards, among other new guidelines.

Schools across the nation typically choose polystyrene trays because they are cheaper — at an average of four cents per tray — than compostable ones, which are around 12 cents, according to an press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council. But by combining forces, the alliance was able to purchase the compostable trays for less than a nickel apiece.

“The American-made molded fiber compostable round plate is produced from pre-consumer recycled newsprint. It is FDA-approved and manufactured in Maine by Huhtamaki North America,” according to a USFA. “The Alliance round plate has five compartments, with the beverage compartment strategically placed in the middle to balance the weight of a typical meal. The innovative design prevents hinging or bending and is easy to handle.”

The USFA estimates that the change will save 225 million polystyrene trays from landfills every year.

“This news is a game changer,” said Alliance Chairman Eric Goldstein and chief executive officer of School Support Services for the New York City Department of Education in a statement. “As leaders in school meals, we’re proud to create a product that students will not only find easy to use, but one that also protects the environment for many years to come.”

Coming next in the 2015-16 school year for LA Unified: compostable cutlery.

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