Sharing table decreases food waste, provides nutrition

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A new sharing table has been added to the cafeteria where students can place uneaten food and drinks into bins. At no additional cost, students who are hungry can pick up extra food items.

After a senior project by alumnus Matthew Perez showed the amount of food discarded in school, physical education teacher Carla Fujimoto decided to take action. 

“The sharing table started because people witnessed me going through the trashcans to pick out all the uneaten packaged foods and fruits and vegetables,” Fujimoto said, “so I would wash off the discarded fruits and make it available for students in physical education.”

In a meeting with Food Services Director Judy Huffaker, she brought up the concept of the sharing table. 

“My suggestion was if [the students] don’t want it, why don’t you have a place where they can put everything out there,” Fujimoto said, “so if others want to eat more, then they could take it.”

With the help of Principal Debbie Stone, the sharing table came to fruition. Students, who are required to take a main entree, fruit or vegetable, and milk, can leave the unwanted items at the table.

“[Students] essentially have to have three items on their tray to go ahead and make sure that their nutritional requirement is filled,” cafeteria manager Roxanne Venegas said. “Whatever they don’t want on that tray, they can donate to the table, and then whoever wants to come and partake in the food that’s leftover is more than welcome to.”

Students can take items from the sharing table to save for after-school activities such as sports, clubs, and other programs.

“Sometimes you’re not always able to pack a second meal for your clubs or your sports,” Venegas said, “so [students] can take advantage of this and still get some nutrition in them.”

The sharing table works in conjunction with the Food Recovery Program on campus. Throughout lunch, food will stay in the bins for taking.

“If it’s taken, good; if it’s not, the milk is the only thing that is tossed in the end,” Venegas said. “We put the fruits and sides that we’re able to give to the foundation into their bin.”

Senior Sam Ly said that he likes the idea of the sharing table and finds himself always putting something in the bins. Ly also sees other students using the sharing table.

“It gives everyone a chance to put away the food they don’t want,” Ly said, “and if someone wants [something] they can just take it from the sharing table.”

Although the sharing table was recently implemented on Sept. 3, Venegas noticed few leftovers in the bins.

“I just want to see the kids engage in the programs we have here on campus,” Venegas said, “whether it’s free breakfast, the sharing table, or just coming to lunch to make sure that they’re full and ready to learn.”

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