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Do up to 73% of school meals end up in the trash?

By Rocio Hernandez on 04/19/2024


The 73% figure refers to a subcategory of vegetable waste found in one of several studies cited in a larger analysis, and researchers cautioned against viewing any individual figure as an average of all school meal waste.

Gov. Joe Lombardo cited this figure from a 2021 study in his veto message against a 2023 bill, AB319, that would have funded universal free breakfast and lunch for Nevada pupils. He argued that the free meals would increase the amount of food purchased and thrown away, and he made similar claims at a March IndyTalks event.

The Washoe County School District conducted its own food waste study, which found that 23% of foods were discarded at the elementary level, and 18% were discarded at the secondary level. Another 2019 study at a Missouri private school found that plate waste ranged from 27% to 53% of the food served.  

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