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Reducing Excessive Plate Waste in the Holyoke Public Schools

Reducing Excessive Plate Waste in the Holyoke Public Schools

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Published by Kyle Lunt
An analysis and report on Reducing Excessive Plate Waste in the Holyoke Public Schools. The information in this report was compiled and analyzed by students in UMass' Center for Public Policy and Administration Master's Program
An analysis and report on Reducing Excessive Plate Waste in the Holyoke Public Schools. The information in this report was compiled and analyzed by students in UMass' Center for Public Policy and Administration Master's Program

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Published by: Kyle Lunt on Jan 06, 2014
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02/26/2015

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Reducing Excessive Plate Waste in the Holyoke Public Schools
 
Prepared for Catherine Sands and Holyoke‟s School Food Taskforce by
 Jake Hawkesworth, Sarah Kofke-Egger, Kyle Lunt, Ana Velásquez, & Jonathan Ward Public Policy Analysis | PubP&A 603 | Spring 2013 | Professor Lee Badgett
 Monday, May 6, 2013
 
Executive Summary
 
This report aims to describe and provide remedies for the condition of excessive plate
waste in the Holyoke Public Schools. Too much plate waste jeopardizes the health of Holyoke‟s
students, and represents an inefficient use of resources for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which subsidizes the majority of meals in the district. As many students do not understand the health benefits of eating nutritious food, school districts across the country have studied and implemented tactics that both provide and facilitate the consumption of these foods. Additionally, the current regulations of the NSLP place strict requirements on food-service  providers that may be exacerbating the problem of plate waste. Many types of tactics have the potential to increase
students‟ consumption of healthy
food. Major categories researched include a.) Implementing sales and marketing strategies, such as the use of verbal prompts, b.) Changing food options and presentation, like offering a salad  bar, and c.) Modifying school routines and programs, such as switching the order of recess and lunch. Each of these categories includes a variety of individual tactics, of which each are evaluated based on their ability to increase consumption of healthy food, adoptability, implementability, and cost. Ultimately, nine recommendations for increasing consumption of healthy foods by students in the Holyoke Public Schools are made. These recommendations are grouped into two
types. “Quick wins” have high feasibility, low cost, and the poten
tial to yield immediate
reductions in plate waste. “Larger ideas” require more resources, and are expected to be less
feasible without advance traction from benefits realized from the quick wins. Still, these ideas have the potential to bring equal, if not greater benefits, than the initial tactics. Recommendations for quick wins include switching trays to plates, using verbal prompts,
instituting „food mentors‟ in the lunchroom, and sending home messaging with students to keep
 parents updated on this initiative. Larger ideas consist of expanding nutrition content in science and health courses, creating incentives such as prizes for students to eat healthy, holding conferences with parents on healthy eating, switching the timing of lunch and recess, and applying to a national grant program to fund the purchase of a salad bar. Lastly, the overall strategy for increasing consumption of healthy food in Holyoke is structured in a series of phases. First, the quick wins should be implemented in order to build support with students, parents, and the community. Then, the larger ideas should be tried as resources become available after the quick wins are implemented and the political feasibility of these options improves. Next, the amount of plate waste in the schools should be examined, and compared to prior studies to assess improvement. Successes should then be presented to the new U.S. Congressman for Holyoke, the Honorable James McGovern, in order to provide him with evidence for affecting change at the national level for NSLP and other food-policy regulations.
 
Introduction
 
“Eat your vegetables,” the child was told by her parents, “They‟ll help you grow big and strong.” Next, of course, came her anticipated reply, “But, I don‟t want to! I just don‟t like
them.
” On any given night, this exchange can be heard at tables in dining rooms and kitchens
across the country. So, it may come as no surprise to many that challenges also exist at school with getting students to eat healthy during the day. Right now, many students in the Holyoke Public Schools are going hungry, but this hunger does not stem from a lack of food. Instead, school officials believe that too much of the healthy food available to students at school is being thrown away, if it even makes it onto their trays in the first place. This rejected food represents  both wasted nutrition, absent from the stomachs of kids who largely count on these meals to  provide them with many of their daily calories, and discarded dollars, provided through the
USDA‟s Nationa
l School Lunch Program.
Defining the problem
 
Low consumption of nutritious foods by students at the Holyoke Public Schools - 
 For a variety of reasons, students in the Holyoke Public Schools are not eating enough healthy foods. Some are throwing away much of the nutritious food served to them, and others are simply not putting it onto their trays in the lunch line. Could purchasing these foods simply cost too much? Perhaps for some, but over 80% of students in Holyoke are eligible for free or reduced-
 price meals through the USDA‟s National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally
assisted meals program that provides students with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. In fact, in some Holyoke schools, less than 5% of students pay anything at all for lunch. Still, school officials have noticed that many students leave school hungry and often frequent

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