Lake Co. schools tries to come up with way to curb food waste



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Lake County school officials said they've come up with a few ways to try to stop students from throwing away their vegetables.

Last month the district wanted to learn how much food and money was being wasted.

WFTV's Berndt Petersen learned officials now want to set up cameras over the trash cans.

WFTV visited Tavares Elementary School on Thursday. The students are encouraged to eat their vegetables, but second-grader Kati Shafar freely admits she won't.

"I usually take the fruit but I don't really take the vegetables that much," she said.

School board members want to know which fruits and vegetables are being thrown out, and how much money they cost. The latest suggestion is to place cameras near the cans.

Questions about how Lake County schools are coping with new federal lunchroom rules have caused some raw nerves.

"I've had some that wrote me pretty harsh analysis," said Vance Jochim, a local blogger who authored some critical comments about the waste.

District food services boss Gary Dodds fired back and then was advised by higher-ups not to do it again.

"And so we have to keep it civil and not stoop to their level and criticize them back," said Chris Patton.

Jochim said the best idea he's heard is to create a sharing table in each cafeteria.

"Kids that don't want their food can put it on a table and others who do want it can get it," he said, which means Shafar's vegetables could be eaten by a classmate.

All these ideas will be on the table as the school board gets into this in the coming weeks.