Yay for trays! It’s a cheesy, fun name but it also holds important meaning for a group of students at Rosa Parks Elementary. Over the course of the school year a group of students have taken lead responsibility for planning and organizing the recycling of 900 student lunch trays. This student-led group has had a real impact on lunchtime at its school.
It was apparent to everyone that something needed to be done about the lunch trays. The custodial staff was frustrated by trays being thrown and stuffed in trash cans, the principal was concerned because food ended up on the ground potentially causing kids to slip and fall, teachers attempted to create order among the students disposing of trays but needed to get out to recess duty, and kids ended up with food and ketchup on pretty much everything, including themselves.
A large group of children volunteered to be part of a group to help with trays, but a large portion eventually lost interest or were just plain grossed out by the leftovers from other peoples’ lunches. Who remained were five kids that really enjoyed helping, creating, and leading the Yay for Trays! group. Several ideas for how to address the tray issue were discussed, and after several weeks of some trial and error, the current system was solidified. Members rotate positions each week, two students stack trays on a small cart, another regulates the number of kids allowed to stack trays at one time, and, lastly, another member is responsible for ensuring no safety issues from spilt food arise. The whole feel of lunchtime has shifted from chaos and frustration to order and high fives, and the group has received praise from teachers and staff alike. And more importantly (to them), they are now the coolest group at school.
Go YAY for Trays!
Rebecca McDaniel, 2012-2013 Community Development Intern