Forks get the chop
Mackenzie Guadagno, Reporter
After forks disappeared from the lunch room, VHS kitchen staff in tandem with the administration made the decision to revoke fork privileges and replace them with chopsticks. But despite the lack of knowledge around these utensils, they seem to be the best option. The kitchen staff at VHS cares a lot about the food they serve here, so this decision was and is a lot more complicated than many students may realize.
“Food is love! That’s our motto. We really care about our students. We feel pretty lucky to get to see who some of you are when you come through the lunchroom at breakfast and lunch,” Julie Grunwald, a member of the lunch staff, said.
VHS kitchen staff put significant thought into the choice to no longer offer forks to students. Funding and the amount of waste are both factors in their decision making.
“The forks have been slowly but surely disappearing. Forks are regularly found in the garbage. Some may be left outside where people are eating. It is not affordable to keep replacing them at the rate we lose them and plastic ware is not environmentally sustainable,” a member of the kitchen staff Lindsay Aickin said.
Overall, chopsticks are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option, so VHS saw it as the next best alternative.
“[The chopsticks] are inexpensive, compostable and, once one learns how to use them, work for a huge variety of foods. Approximately one third of the world eats with chopsticks, and we thought some number of students had likely used them before,” Aickin said.
The kitchen staff has a lot more to focus on than just buying food. Their budget covers most of what goes into VHS’s breakfast and lunches everyday.
“Our budget buys food, but also kitchen equipment, cooking supplies, serving trays, plates, bowls…..and forks,” Grunwald said. “That money comes primarily from our own community, your families included. We feel every penny when we pay taxes as citizens. It can hurt! But we all live here, or very near, and decide that the taxes we give are spent responsibly on things that are needed— things that we value. We take our budget seriously and respect the money that allows us to feed you all.”
There are still issues with chopsticks, however, as many students struggle to use them. An Instagram poll conducted by the Riptide earlier this month revealed that 21 percent of students who responded don’t know how to use chopsticks. Chopsticks also don’t fully fix the environmental impact the lunch staff was worried about with the plastic forks.
“It turns out, there’s also a huge waste issue and environmental impact with using disposable, compostable chopsticks. Unsustainable forestry practices, resulting in deforestation, increased fossil fuel and construction waste, and removing the earth’s way of trapping and storing CO2, making our planet hotter and the land less resilient… So, you see that the problem has not really been solved,” Grunwald said.
The lunch staff is doing their best in a hard situation. They are accommodating for students’ behavior and keep in mind the impact they have on their health and education.
“Since we can’t make students change their behavior, we try to come up with the next best solution— chopsticks— and we can raise awareness and connect students’ actions to climate change and resource waste and the inconvenience/discomfort some have with using chopsticks to eat with,” Grunwald said.