Cafeteria Culture

Cafeteria Culture
Organization Name:
Cafeteria Culture
Primary Address 1:
c/o The Lower Eastside Girls Club
Primary Address 2:
402 East 8th Street
Primary Address City:
New York
Primary Address State:
Primary Address Zip:
Other Locations 1:
c/o Fund for the City of New York
121 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Fl
NY NY 10013
Long Organization Description:

Cafeteria Culture (CafCu) is working to achieve zero-waste, climate smart schools and a plastic free biosphere. We teach innovative environmental education, fostering youth-led solutions on critical sustainability issues by merging citizen science, civic action, media and the arts. Our students, overwhelmingly from low-income communities of color, provide an urgently needed voice in the environmental movement.

Founded in 2009 as Styrofoam Out of Schools, we catalyzed the complete elimination of plastic styrofoam trays from NYC schools and ten other US urban school districts, resulting in half a billion styrofoam trays per year diverted from landfills, incinerators and student meals annually and shifting manufacturing trends.

Building upon this success, we recently produced a feature documentary,, The movie is a springboard to achieve our goal of plastic free school food service in all NYC public schools. The movie follows the journey of 56 fifth graders from Red Hook Brooklyn, as their understanding of plastic pollution morphs into extraordinary courage and leadership. With heartfelt kid commentary, stop-motion animation, and expert interviews, this inspiring narrative conveys an urgent, accessible message of informed action and hope, while bridging the nexus of plastic pollution and the climate emergency.

An educational version of Microplastic Madness (45-50 minutes), along with free classroom toolkit (grades 4 and up) and a YouTube series that digs deeper into the movie topics are being created to support a youth-led #PlasticFreeFuture campaign with schools as hubs for change.

See our YouTube channel, CafCu Media, with 35K subscribers and over 23 million views.

Organization Website Address:
Organization Phone Number:
(347) 618-1875
Business Fax:
Cafeteria Culture
Business Fax (secondary):
Cafeteria Culture
Director, Manager or CEO (First Name):
Debby Lee
Director, Manager or CEO (Last Name):
Business Address:
c/o Lower Eastside Girls Club
Business Address (secondary):
402 East 8th Street
ZIP Code:
How do customers and clients contact your organization?:
Twitter, ; YouTube, CafCu Media, ; Instagram, ; FB,
How often does your organization use social media?:
4-5x per week
Interesting Fact About the Organization:
Cafeteria Culture (CafCu), founded in 2009 as Styrofoam Out of Schools, catalyzed the complete elimination of styrofoam trays from all NYC public schools and ten other large urban school districts, resulting in half a billion toxic and polluting styrofoam trays diverted per year from landfills, incinerators and student meals.

In December 2013, the NYC Council voted unanimously to ban styrene foam from the entire city! CafCu’s role was critical to this success, collaborating with 15 other nonprofits and taking the lead in grassroots lobbying.

CafCu produced our first feature documentary, Microplastic Madness, which follows the journey of 5th graders from PS 15, living in Red hook, Brooklyn on the frontline of Climate Change as they take extraordinary action to stop plastic pollution, including leading the first Plastic Free Lunch Day in a New York City school (learn more at

Community members (approx.):
Number of volunteers:
Number of staff/employees:
Annual Budget:
Year Started:
Major Funders:
New York City Council
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, Trash Free Waters Grant
New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC)
Johnson Ohana Foundation
Fund for the City of New York
Lily Auchincloss Foundation
Patagonia NYC
FJC- a Foundation of Philanthropic Funds
Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund
Individual donors
Organization Type:
Environmental and Climate Education, Youth Advocacy, Food Waste
About the Organization:
Cafeteria Culture is led by a small and passionate team of experts with years of environmental education, media, arts, and teaching experience. Since 2010, we have been partnering and mediating with various stake-holders, including students, teachers, custodial staff, cafeteria aides, School Food staff, school administrators, parents, School Food directors, manufacturers, and others to develop innovative zero waste school models that can be scaled up and easily shared citywide and beyond.
Latest Project: – the movie, toolkit and impact campaign for a #PlasticFreeFuture.

Youth Advocates –
Areas Served:
New York City wide
Major Issues:
– Plastic Free school food service
– Zero Waste
– Climate Justice
– Plastic Free legislation
– Youth Advocacy

We have and or use Social Media?:
Yes, we do have social media (twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc…)
Vimeo (Channel):
Frequently used hashtags 1:
#PlasticFree #zerowaste #climateemergency #youthaction #MicroplasticMadness
Frequently used hashtags 2:
#sustainability #zerowasteschools
  • Microplastic Madness - the movie
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