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Why don’t more county schools use silverware and reusable trays instead of styrofoam?

Jason Gonzales
School lunch trays

Local school districts say it's cheaper and easier to use disposable trays and utensils in cafeterias. (StarNews file photo)

Students won’t be seeing reusable silverware and dishware anytime soon in the local schools.

That’s because disposable silverware and trays are more cost effective than reusable dishware, according to New Hanover and Brunswick counties school officials.

“Disposable silverware is used in all schools because metal silverware is very easily thrown away, resulting in replacement costs,” Tina Ward, Brunswick County Schools’ child nutrition director, said.

Also, reusable trays are more costly to maintain and wash, according to Imer Smith, New Hanover County Schools’ child nutrition director.

“It is less expensive for the (department) to use disposal products because of costs associated with staffing, operating and maintaining dishwashing equipment,” she said.

The state health department requires all plastic trays be air dried.

New Hanover County’s district schools also use an EnviroFoam tray that is environmentally friendly, Smith said.

They cost about three cents per tray.

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3 Responses to “ Why don’t more county schools use silverware and reusable trays instead of styrofoam?”

  1. On May 31, 2011 at 5:48 pm NEPender wrote:

    This is the reason why our landfills and trahs facilities are overflowing in recent years.

    Everything in society is thrown away now days. Most of the styrofoam products are not recycled and wind up in the landfill or the incenerator.

    The reason they claim reusable cutlery is not “cost effective”, is hiring dishwashers and purchasing dish washing equipment would cut into the bottom lines of the school budgets, and then the Superintendent would have to cut the budget more to keep his salary at the six figures it has been for years.

    Perhaps a law needs to be enacted to BAN styrofoam containers from the schools. Get real cutlery and trays and pay for them to get washed. Someone is probably getting kickbacks from the distributors of these foam trays and plastic forks.

  2. On June 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm Brian wrote:

    Easy to throw away silverware? Simple answer – each kid turns in a numbered ticket when they get their silverware. They get the ticket back when they turn in the silverware after lunch. No ticket, no silverware. No ticket at the end of the week, parents pay for new set of silverware.

  3. On June 2, 2011 at 2:22 am Jeramy Long wrote:

    Having worked in the restaurant business for many years, and worked in many dish rooms, I know there is a solution to flatware being thrown in the trash. It’s called magnets! We had trash can lids with openings equipped with very powerful magnets to catch wayward forks, spoons and knives.
    Another suggestion, everyone that works AT the schools does not have work FOR the schools. To help with the county budget, hire a private firm to run the cafeterias at the schools. I am sure they can do it for lass money than the county spends now and use reusable utensils and food trays.

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