As regular readers know, I am the house manager at the Lyric Theatre in Rochester. Last week we had a very funny and entertaining show — “Dixie’s Tupperware Party.” By the way, it’s a real Tupperware party, with raffles, Tupperware for sale, and a catalogue for you to order other Tupperware products.

On a serious note, Dixie talked about how many of the products can help you make food last longer, so that you can save money by not having to throw as much of it away. Of course, this column is all about saving money. To her credit, Dixie also emphasized the disturbing fact that 40% of our food gets tossed out every year at a cost of $162 billion annually.

Here is an additional food waste statistic I found in my research. At an average cost of $2.79 per meal, that wasted food could serve 58,064,516,129 meals, and yes that’s billion.

I have included a photo of Dixie Longate and me, holding up one of my favorite Tupperware products that can make your food stay fresher for longer, and save you money. It’s a FridgeSmart container that has its own venting system to keep food fresher.

Check out Dixie on the internet, including Facebook and Twitter, and make sure to see one of her shows as she travels around the country. You will enjoy it.

In the next column I want to talk about food rescue and other related food waste subjects, and please know that this part of the column was researched and written before last Sunday’s edition that included a NerdWallet piece on the subject.

Finally, I want to revisit student loan debt. We recently looked at some proposals to make certain student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy, other than some presidential candidates’ proposals to make it all dischargeable. The three principal ones that we discussed were: private student loans; direct student loans for the education of someone else (an example would be direct loans sometimes taken out by a parent); and loans that have been in repayment status for more than seven years. We promised to keep watching this area of the law, because it seems clear that there will be changes.

Now, there has been an interesting development in this area. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on a case from the Eastern District of New York Bankruptcy Court. It described the decision of the Court to discharge the over $220,000 in the student loan debt owed by a Navy veteran, which was used in part to obtain a law degree, as “ the latest court ruling to lower the barriers to discharging educational debt.” The article went on to say, “With few borrowers qualifying for relief, cancellations remain rare, but some bankruptcy judges are becoming more sympathetic.”

I have not read the decision, so I am not aware of all of the facts and circumstances that were presented, or the full reasoning of the Court. However, from what I have read of the facts in the Journal report, I don’t believe that relief would have been available in a Court in the Second Circuit (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont), eight years ago when I retired from the Bankruptcy Bench. It is true that there were a few cases then that reduced some of the debt or discharged certain loans, like private loans, but not public loans.

The legal standard, then and now, in the Second Circuit to discharge student loan debt is the three-part Brunner Test. It is essentially that you cannot maintain a minimal standard of living if you have to repay the loan; your financial difficulties are expected to continue for a substantial period of time; and you have made good faith efforts to repay the debt. The Urban Legend version of the test is that you or a direct dependent have to basically be disabled or unemployable in order to meet the test.

Most of the decisions that failed to grant a discharge of student loan debt when I was on the bench talked about the educational choices that people made, and that they may have resulted in a hardship, but not an undue hardship, just because they didn’t work out. A classic version is someone who goes to Divinity School, but then can’t find a job in a parish that will pay them enough to support both them and their family, and also pay back the student loan debt they incurred.

In the case at hand, the debtor had borrowed $116,500 between 1993 and 2004, which had ballooned to $ $221,400 with interest due at the time of the filing, in order to earn an undergraduate history degree and a law degree. He had worked for a short time at a law firm and as a part-time contract attorney. For the 10 years before filing, he had worked in the outdoor adventure industry, including owning an adventure tour guide business. At the time of filing, the debtor was earning $37,600 per year, and had negative income.

The creditor argued that the debtor’s financial circumstances were of his own making, because he chose not to use the legal education that his loans had paid for.

It is not known yet whether this decision will be appealed, but I will follow the case if it is. I wonder what you think about the decision.

According to usnews.com, in 2019, the Department of Education started looking at a possible definition of undue hardship that Congress might adopt in amending the Bankruptcy Code. The idea would be that legislation could both broaden the definition and take the question of undue hardship away from the courts that continue to determine it on a case by case basis.

The bottom line is that there will be changes to the standards for discharging some student loan debt, either by Congress or the courts, or both. The more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt is a problem that more and more Americans believe has to be addressed, whether indebted students made good educational choices or not.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.