Boys try to reduce wasted school food

June 27, 2011 3:39:21 PM PDT
Thousands and thousands of pounds of leftover food is tossed in the trash at schools across our district. While it may not sound appetizing, there are some potential good uses for leftovers that currently go right to the dump. Some local kids want to see something done about it. Two young brothers were inspired by the amount of food they saw going to waste. They've embarked on a project their father says they hope will not only help change the Houston Independent School District, but also be a lifelong lesson for his two sons.

Ethan and Ian Tran do it all the time. They recycle at home and at their dad's office. So it made sense they wanted to recycle unused food at their schools.

"I don't think it's right, because there are some kids that don't want to eat as much and it goes to waste," said 11-year-old Ethan Tran.

Both boys eat food prepared by HISD's food services. HISD is the largest supplier of meals in the state, serving more than 275,000 prepared meals a day during the school year. Yet, whatever is not eaten is, by law, thrown away. So Ethan had an idea. Why not get HISD to recycle their unused food?

Ethan said, "It hurts to see lots of kids out there that don't have food."

Brian Giles agrees. He is head of HISD's food services. Giles says he doesn't know how much food is thrown away, but says HISD is already studying how to reduce waste.

"We are piloting at Gregg Elementary a way for students to do that same thing, to be able to select more choices or refuse one or two items that they would not like to eat," Giles explained.

However, state laws are rigid and do not allow school districts to re-serve or donate unused food. The Trans are working to that state law, to allow entities like HISD to donate food to charitable organizations. It's a journey their father says will have a lifelong effect on Ethan and Ian.

Minh Tran said, "If we don't try, then nothing gained, right? Kids can make a difference."

HISD says they like Ethan's idea, and they're going to help him with his research. The boys were inspired by a similar state law in Florida.


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