top of page

‘Plastic Free Lunch Day’ Coming to NYC Schools in April 2024

Children Urged to Reduce Plastic Use in School Cafeterias 

Cafeteria Culture hopes to help eliminate plastic eating utensils in schools.  ©USDA/Wikimedia
Cafeteria Culture hopes to help eliminate plastic eating utensils in schools. ©USDA/Wikimedia

During the week of April 1724, 2024, non-profit Cafeteria Culture(CafCu), in partnership with Fund for the City of New York, is raising awareness among school children and the public about the billions of plastic utensils, wrappers, and other packaging items that are discarded annually from school lunch programs across the globe. CafCu’s signature event, Plastic Free Lunch Day (PFLD), takes place the week of Earth Day 2024 in New York City’s 1,700 K-12 public schools but also invites partnerships with schools as far away as Japan.

What kind of impact could a program like PFLD have? According to CafCu’s website, “If every school in the US reduces just two pieces of plastic per school lunch each day, we can eliminate 10 billion pieces of plastic per school year.” 


The non-profit began in 2009 as Styrofoam Out of Schools. It was successful in catalyzing the elimination of Styrofoam lunch trays in every NYC public school and nine other large US school districts. This change alone is estimated to have stopped 4.2 million Styrofoam trays from entering the waste stream per week. 


This led to the formation of CafCu and its first PFLD event, held in 2022. School children are encouraged to bring reusable utensils from home and buy or bring lunches that don’t require utensils. Students are also asked to avoid plastic plates, condiments in plastic packaging, and any other plastic-packaged item, such as snacks or drinks during the PFLD events. 


CafCu says the kids in its programs discuss environmental issues, collect and analyze local data, and talk with decision makers about solutions, including ones the students have designed. 

The organization is also behind the production of the student-led documentary,Microplastic Madness(2019), already screened in at least 45 countries. CafCu invites under-resourced schools to host a free screening of Microplastic Madness (View official documentary trailer here). 

What’s next for the organization? Having helped to eliminate Styrofoam from all NYC public schools, it expects PFLD to play a major role in the non-profit’s biggest goal yet, to eliminate the remaining single-use plastics from NYC and US public school cafeterias. 



Join Our Community

Sign up for our bi-monthly environmental publication and get notified when new issues of The Earth & I  are released!


bottom of page