Carmel Clay Schools reduces appetite for plastic cutlery


By Rick Morwick

Jennifer McFarland has several reasons why Carmel Clay Schools is experimenting with reusable silverware in some of its cafeterias. But one objective tops the list: It’s the environmentally friendly thing to do.

“We are always looking at new initiatives and ways to incorporate recycling and green efforts into the cafeterias, some of which include eliminating Styrofoam and disposable straws,” said McFarland, director of Food & Nutrition Services for CCS. “We worked closely with the CCS Green Team on this real silverware pilot program, and so far, it has been a well-received, positive success.”

Carmel Clay Schools has launched a pilot program for reusable silverware at three of its campuses. (Submitted photos)

Launched at the beginning of the school year at College Wood Elementary, West Clay Elementary and Clay Middle School, the program is designed to reduce plastic disposables and trash in a broader effort to shrink the amount of material CCS sends to landfills.

Moreover, by eliminating the purchase of plastic utensils, school officials expect the silverware initiative to save several thousand dollars each year, in addition to dramatically reducing throwaway items.

“We are looking to save $6,000 (annually) by switching to real silverware,” McFarland said. “(As for) other positive benefits, we’re preventing 357,000 plastic utensils  from going into the trash. It’s been a very eye-opening experience seeing the numbers firsthand.”

Although still in the fledgling stage, school officials are pleased with early results and tentatively plan to replace plastic utensils in three more cafeterias before the end of the school year. The overarching mission is to eventually make reusable silverware standard in all CCS schools.

“Our goal is to expand to three more schools after winter break,” McFarland said. “Our goal is to have all 15 (CCS) locations switched to real silverware by fall 2021. We’ve had a lot of building administrative support, and the students involved are happy to lead the way in this initiative.”

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