Zero Tolerance for Food Waste

At a Lower School Assembly on December 10, Rhonda Keyser of Cafeteria Culture spoke to Browning boys about the importance of decreasing waste in the School’s dining hall. Originally founded in 2009 by a group of concerned parents and educators as Styrofoam Out of Schools, this group partnered with New York City’s Department of Education School Food and Parsons The New School to eliminate the 860,000 toxic and polluting Styrofoam lunch trays used in school cafeterias every day. 

Ms. Keyser explained how wasted food must be hauled to incinerators, creating air pollution as it is transported by truck and even more harm to the environment once it is burned in incinerators. The boys listened attentively as she described the process of recycling, composting and sorting waste in order to decrease harmful effects on the earth. Throughout her lively presentation, Ms. Keyser emphasized that the movement to eliminate wasted food in schools is led by students and was pleased that the boys of Browning are already doing their part.

For two days in December, boys in Grades Two through Four collected, weighed and measured their solid food waste in the dining hall, according to librarian Susan Levine, a committee member for the school’s annual Community Day which seeks to broaden the boys’ consciousness of the world beyond Browning. This collection created awareness of how much food is put on plates and not eaten. Ms. Levine noted, “It was a great hands-on way to begin this important conversation.”At the beginning of the assembly, Headmaster Clement congratulated the second and fourth graders on their efforts and enthusiasm to make the world a better place.

The program concluded with a rousing song by the boys, led by Ms. Keyser, that reiterated what can be achieved when we all do our share to eliminate wasted food. For more information on Cafeteria Culture, visit their website at