Grade School Students Reject Styrofoam Lunch Trays

Public school officials in Montgomery County, Md., are saying no to a plan which would allow one of its elementary schools to replace disposable Styrofoam lunch trays with reusable trays. This week, a student activist group met with county officials to try to change that.

Students from the Young Activists Club at Piney Branch Elementary have raised $10,000 to buy reusable trays and swap out the environmentally unpopular Styrofoam.

In the meeting held at the school's auditorium, they tried to persuade a small gathering of county council members to buy-in to their plan.

During the meeting, Hanna Brooks a third grader at Piney Branch testified:

"Styrofoam is made from styrene which is a neurotoxin and suspected human carcinogen. That means it's bad for your brain, and we think it causes cancer," says Brooks.

School superintendent Jerry Weast disagrees with that. In a memo issued in 2009, Weast wrote, the Styrofoam is safe and affordable. He also claimed the cost to replace the Styrofoam with reusable trays and equipment to wash them would cost approximately $70,000.

Young Activists Club co-leader Brenda Platt said the club can buy the equipment for far less.

"It'll be under $15,000. Our budget is $11,000, and we still think we can do it for that," said Platt.

Board of Education member Chris Barclay said the trays should go, but he wants another plan. Meanwhile six council members said they support the student effort.

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