In an ideal world, every school would have the ability to provide fresh, healthy lunches to its students. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.

Recently a new issue -- plate waste -- has emerged, further complicating the goal of getting healthy lunches into schools.

Although many schools have introduced healthier lunches, they cannot force the students to eat what is on their plate. In the end, the students throw away what they don't want, which is often the fruits and vegetables.

According to a March Harvard School of Public Health news release, children are throwing away 60 to 75 percent of vegetables from their lunches. This problem has become an issue for both administrators and students alike.

Money is wasted and children spend the day hungry.

So who is to blame for the increase in plate waste once healthier food is served? We can blame the schools for not making appetizing, healthy options or parents for not teaching their children about wasting food. We can even make an argument blaming corporations for marketing unhealthy foods to kids in the first place, making them not want healthier options.

While we can blame each one of these groups, the truth is that everyone in America is partially responsible for the plate waste problem. The throwaway culture fostered by overconsumption of all products is what children are accustomed to, and it is no surprise that they throw away the food they don't want to eat. But assigning blame does not change the current situation. It does not encourage action.


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In fact, putting the blame on others removes the individual from the problem. And placing blame on society will not address the problem, so the real question is: what should be done?

The solution to this problem is to change children's perspectives on plate waste in all aspects of their lives.

While this is a straightforward suggestion, it is a very involved solution. It requires everyone in society who interacts with children to change how they interact with the food they eat, or more specifically, don't eat.

Change is hard. And motivating people to change, especially for someone other than himself or herself, is even harder. But if everyone chose to be a little less wasteful and modeled that behavior to the children in their life, it could make a big difference. We cannot limit the responsibility of change to those who have chosen to influence children, such as parents and teachers. Children do not choose who influences them, they just take in what happens in their environment. Which is why collective action, crowdsourcing good habits from all of society, is the best way to address the plate waste problem in schools and at home.

Asha Brundage-Moore is an Oakland resident.