Lunch items in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been in flux in recent years — for example, swapping pizza for whole-grain spaghetti — but the sagging plastic foam tray that carried the food survived for decades.
That changed too earlier this month, when the foam was switched out for recyclable paper trays at all district schools.
District and city leaders made it official during a Thursday lunch-hour announcement at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Feliz, where two years ago the activism of some sixth-graders kicked off the effort to ban plastic foam trays.
Martin Gonzalez, 13, said it all started in Ann Holtzinger's sixth-grade class. They were studying the effects of trash on the environment, and the students learned that the cafeteria's plastic foam trays weren't being recycled. They raised money to buy their own bright yellow reusable plastic trays.
"It was weird at first, but you get used to it," Gonzalez said. "I think some people were actually jealous."
Groups of students also stationed themselves near trash cans and plucked used plastic foam trays from the hands of other students before they could be trashed.