Conscientious in the commons

Multiple factors must be considered before making ultimate decisions in the everyday workings of the cafeteria.


Wednesday’s Lunch. Students get a specific tray based on their lunch menu choice, but all students grab plastic cutlery no matter what their meal is. This was a way to implement a smoother process of dumping excess food.“It’s hard to say whether it would be cheaper in the long run to have metal utensils. A lot would depend on how much was thrown away and how often BHS would need to replace the silverware. It would also be necessary to factor in labor and chemical costs to wash the utensils.

Hungry students flood the commons areas each day eager to get their meals. The staff and students have a nice flow during the day to make this process go smoothly each week, but little do the students realize what is actually happening to make this happen. 

BHS lunchroom staff judge really well to eliminate a lot of waste leaving the school.

“Working with the amazing staff and seeing the smiling faces of the students is my favorite part of working at Bismarck High school,” Head Cook Christine Levorson said.

On an average day, BHS custodians toss out about 650 pounds of food from breakfast and lunch. 

“Plastic utensils really do not add to, or affect the amount of the trash from breakfast or lunch. They are so small and light,” Head Custodian Bruce Brady said. 

It’s important to note that Levorson orders approximately 18 cases of plastic utensils a month. 

“I definitely think that the plastic utensils create more waste here at BHS. It would be nice if they were biodegradable or metal,” English teacher Allison Roemmich said. 

A couple reasons why the school does not have metal utensils is that they are more expensive up front and would get tossed with the trash. They are costly to replace on a yearly basis. The amount of water, gas and electricity used would only increase due to merely washing these metal utensils. Which would simply outweigh the benefits. 

“I can understand the hygienic benefits and conveniences of plastic utensils. But I think they can also be wasteful,” Roemmich said. 

Although each plastic utensil typically only costs .03 cents, the cost of food would not differ if the school had metal silverware. 

“When putting a cost analysis between plastic and metal utensils the price is close but plastic, at this point in time, is more cost effective on tight budgets,” Brady said. 

“I don’t particularly care for plastic cutlery, but I also understand why we use it in secondary schools,” Levorson said.