Contact Your Council Member

Students & Teachers
1 Contact you City Council Member

Click Here to locate your City Council Member

Ask you City Council Member and the Mayor to:

  1. Enforce the elimination polystyrene in all NYC DoE schools.

  2. Provide financial support for the piloting of composting in all NYC schools.

  3. Call for inter-agency support of such pilots.

  4. Call for an official REDUCE POLICY and philosophy throughout all school cafeterias and government buildings.

  5. Consider the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of food service ware in NYC DoE sourcing and contracting; acknowledge the “true cost” of products by accounting for the environmental impact of manufacturing, transport, and disposal.

Styrofoam has been linked to obesity, premature puberty, neurological problems such as headaches, nervousness and fatigue, and endocrine related cancers. Styrene migrates from the tray into the food. The rate of migration depends partially on the fat content of the food—the higher the fat content, the higher the migration into the food. Many of our kids bypass the migration issue and just eat the styrene by scraping the Styrofoam trays clean with their plastic forks.

Polystyrene can remain intact for hundreds of years before decomposing. The trays take up a disproportionate amount of space in our landfills and they are not commercially viable to recycle. Due to the light weight of polystyrene, it is easily airborne and waterborne, and often ends up as litter. Polystyrene is one of the primary components of marine debris, and can be harmful to birds and marine mammals.

Let's protect our children and our environment.
Thanks the City Council for banning styrofoam in food packaging. Ask them to monitor the change to compostable trays.

Click Here to locate your City Council Member

2 Expand Trayless Tuesdays to Trayless Tuesdays, Fridays & Breakfast in your School

Trayless Tuesdays have been enacted in all 1,500 NYC public schools. By not using Styrofoam trays on Tuesdays, the DoE has reduced Styrofoam tray use by 600,000 trays per week! We are delighted that the DOE recognizes that serving food on polystyrene is wrong.

Until the new compostable trays are available in September, we are still left with 3,400,000 trays PER WEEK that will continue to fill up our landfills.

Click Here to find out how

3 Sign Up for our Mailing List

4 Pass our info along to all your friends

5 Impatient For Change?
Look into the possibility of starting composting at your school
Set up an appointment with your School Food Regional Director.
Contact Office of School Food at (718) 707-4300 to find out who your Regional Manager is.

Check our blog for updates on cafeteria waste reduction, recycling and composting! Visit our new companion site for resources such as how-to-guides, flyers, curriculum, and more.

Please note: SOSnyc / Cafeteria Culture supports the use of compostable trays when schools are willing to work towards finding composting solutions, as opposed to sending the trays to landfills.
Modern landfills are designed to preserve their contents, rather than transforming them to humus or mulch. When compostable trays (such as Bagasse or sugar cane) and other compostables (like paper and food waste) are sent to landfills, they decompose anaerobically, without oxygen, creating methane and contributing to climate change. They do not break down the way they would in a compost pile!

School-farm partnerships for composting compostable trays?

Last year, CafCu/SOS suggested to PS 89 Liberty School (Battery Park) to partner with a farm for the ”back-hauling” of the school’s compostable trays, i.e., taking used trays back to the farm in their already in-the neighborhood, returning, almost empty truck. The school’s dedicated parent green team took the idea and made it a reality! They partnered with Holton Farms of Vermont, a CSA. Holton builds its farm business and school trays get composted. Unfortunately, Holton Farms is no longer doing business in NYC.

If your school is interested in building a partnership with a CSA, please email us.
For more information, see:
Cafeteria Culture’s The Full Story, Why SOS?
Cool 2012-  Compostable Organics Out of Landfills 2012.


Cafeteria Culture Kids Demand safe trays!

Beginning on July 1, food establishments will be barred from using plastic foam cups or containers, compelling purveyors of curbside cart fare and Chinese takeout, among others, to find alternatives.
School districts in LA, NYC, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando, plan to use their collective clout
2.5 million daily meals
$530 million annually


If all goes as planned, the compostable plates will
replace styrofoam lunch trays
by September for more than
2.6 MILLION STUDENTS nationwide.
That could add up to some
271 MILLION plates annually that will no longer be burned as trash or buried in landfills.


When Debby Lee Cohen was gathering trays
from school cafeterias for her Parson's project,
"No Tray Left Behind", she noticed that many
kids were carving their trays with
their forks while eating.
Children sometimes scrape their lunch trays,
either to finish their food or just for fun.
By doing this, it is possible they may ingest
some of the chemical styrene. We, as
Environmental Pediatricians, advise use of
food containers made from materials other than
styrene or choose, as some schools have, to
remove school trays from cafeterias altogether.

- Mount Sinai Pediatric
Environmental Health Specialty Unit

This is an image of a child digging into
her tray with her plastic spork while eating.
Child digging with spork
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