My Kids’ School Eliminates Waste in Cafeteria
It’s that time of year again when I spend a day working at my kids’ school. It is always a lot of fun to be with the kids in their classrooms and help with activities. Every year I learn something new from a visual management perspective or from some other aspect of lean. The school is not “using lean” but there are always elements of it around.
This year I noticed some small improvements that were great ways to element small amounts of waste that would add up over time. One example was the placement of the silverware in the lunch line. It used to be the first thing in the line so every kid would grab one of each piece of silverware before choosing their lunch and knowing what they would actually need for their lunch. Now the silverware is the very last thing in the lunch line. The kids can choose their food and then pick the appropriate utensils. This eliminates the cleaning silverware that was never used, saving time in putting silverware away as well as possibly reducing the number of dishwasher cycles needed to clean the dishes.
A second small improvement I saw had to do with reducing food waste. As part of the lunch, students get milk in cartons, yogurt cups or other food items that are packaged. In years past, if the student didn’t want it they threw it in the trash. At the same time, other students might want an extra milk or yogurt and would have to pay extra for it.
Now the school has the “share table”. It is a small table where students that don’t want their milk carton or packaged food item can put it on the table for other students to eat. If another student wants an extra milk they can ask to go to the “share table” and pick an item. Less food in the trash and less cost to parents of kids who want a little extra. What a great idea!
It is amazing at all the learning that I still get every year I go into my kids’ school. We can learn ways to reduce waste and communicate visually anywhere. We just have to keep our eyes and minds open.