Stop Allowing School Cafeterias to Throw Away Fresh Food

Target: Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education

Goal: Eliminate restrictions in public K-12 school cafeterias that prevent recycling of food waste.

Schools account for 530,000 tons of usable food waste per year, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Many districts, whether independently or because of partnerships with food supplies, restrict the conservation of recyclable food waste in their schools. To many schools this seems like an efficient way to ensure a quick cleanup or that food storage containers are clear for the next order. However, it results in massive amounts of waste.

According to the USDA in 2021, 10.2%, or 13.5 million, of households in the US were food-insecure. Considering this, along with domestic farmers exporting more than 20% of what they produce, it’s easy to see we need to do more to address food shortages in this country.

Food takes time to produce. Educating students on the importance of food conservation is important, but in the meantime, more immediate measures must be taken. Creating food donation partnerships for schools as well as promoting school districts to recycle unused food in their cafeterias is a logical step to addressing food insecurity nationwide.

Sign the below petition to help push Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education, to acknowledge the egregious waste of a precious resource and its importance in curbing a growing problem in this country.


Dear Secretary Cardona,

The discarding of thousands of tons of fresh foods each year is a slap in the face to millions in this country who aren’t able to put food on their own tables. Ambiguous food safety laws as well as vendor contracts that encourage school cafeterias to throw out food to make way for the next shipment, instead of finding it a new home, is a long-standing problem that must be addressed.

Most if not all educators have seen first hand the trashcans full of fresh produce following meals at schools. Often students and staff are discouraged from securing food after meal times. Yet, we as a country continue to see headlines about the many going without food at home. This borders on violating the human right to life.

I urge you to take the simple steps to partner with food pantries and other donation programs operating in most school districts to eliminate the waste of the world’s most important natural resource.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Taz


  1. Cindy Miller says:

    The waste in this country is horrible!!

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