Sharing Tables


What is a Sharing Table?

A Sharing Table is a place where students can place unopened food and beverages that they choose not to eat or drink.  This provides an opportunity for other students to take additional helpings of food or beverages from the Sharing Table at no cost to them.  While students are still encouraged to choose only what they will eat and eat what they choose, the Sharing Table offers an opportunity for sharing items that would normally be thrown away.


How Does the Sharing Table Work?

Students must drop off unwanted food and beverage on the Sharing Table immediately after leaving the serving line.  If a student is still hungry after finishing his or her meal, he or she may pick-up items from the Sharing Table.  Adults may not eat form the Sharing Table.  All food and beverages must be discarded at the end of the meal service.


Reducing Waste in the Lunch Room

For several years, Nutrition Services has taken important steps to reduce food waste.  They use a concept called "Offer Versus Serve" to plan meals, reduce waste, and allow students to choose only the foods they want to eat.  Menus are planned around five food groups.  The food groups are meats/protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk on My Plate (

At lunch, Nutrition Services offers fruits, vegetables, meat/meat alternates, grain/ bread, and milk daily.  Students must have ½ cup fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal.  A student may decline 2 of the 5 food groups that are offered, but, once again, must take ½ cup of fruit or vegetable.

At breakfast, Nutrition Services offers fruits, whole grains, and milk daily.  Students are required to have ½ cup fruit on their tray for it to count as a full meal.  A student may decline some of the breakfast items offered but, once again, must take ½ cup fruit.

In order to take the minimum amount of food to create a full meal, a student may be required to select food that he or she will not eat.  The Sharing Table is available to encourage sharing of unwanted items and limit food that is thrown away.


What Can Be Placed on the Sharing Table?

Pre-packaged and shelf-stable food and fruits with an inedible peel.  Examples include:

  • Unopened pre-packaged cereal, crackers, and chips
  • Whole fruits with an inedible peel, such as oranges and bananas

No items from home can be placed on the Sharing Table.


More information about Sharing Tables:

Reducing Food Waste - What Schools Can Do

CalRecycle - Child Nutrition/School Cafeterias

California Assembly Bill No. 1219 - Food Donations