Food waste in schools has now been a problem for centuries. Thousands and thousands of kilograms of food have been wasted annually with students recklessly throwing away food either because they are full or simply don’t like it. A new World Wildlife Fund report estimates that schools in the U.S waste a total of 530,000 tons per year that costs as much as $9.7 million per day, which can further be categorized as 39.2 pounds of food waste and 19.4 gallons of milk wasted per school per year. Another study further highlights the massive food waste that is taking place right now as surveys and reports show triggering statistics across the globe. In Sweden food wasted per plate accounted for 23% of the total food served, in Italy, it was between 20% and 29% and in Spain it was about 30%. Alarming isn’t it?
Solutions to Reducing Food Waste in Schools
So by now, you must be wondering, what is the solution? How can this massive food waste be stopped?
Well, the answer to this is simple. Even though this issue is quite widespread and many do not even acknowledge this as an ‘issue’ because of how normalized it has become, there is a lot that can be done to help minimize this food waste. Starting from educating and raising awareness about the threats posed by this reckless food wastage followed by strict implementation of well-planned policies and strategies. Many strategies have already been proposed internationally to help bring an end to this food waste. If the school authorities especially those who are responsible for sorting out students’ lunch and the students themselves wish to create a change and want to switch to more sustainable practices, this problem can be pondered over and it can be fixed. There are a variety of strategies that can be introduced in schools that can prove to be extremely beneficial. Both students and schools need to adopt these strategies.
Raising Awareness and Educating about Food Waste in Schools
Raising awareness and educating young individuals regarding the issue of food sustainability and topics like the global food crisis and hunger can play an incredibly impactful role in shaping these young minds into thinking more sustainably. School authorities should conduct regular sessions where these important issues should be discussed. This will ensure that the students will act with more consideration and play their part in reducing food waste. The more the students are exposed to the issue of food waste and food insecurity the more likely they are to be conscious of the food they carelessly throw away.
Empowering students to feel knowledgeable and even accountable will help them become keen to take bold steps aimed at reducing waste in their schools. It will create a long-lasting powerful impact on them and will ensure that they themselves strive to make a change.
Cutting up Fruits and Vegetables for Easy Consumption
Cutting up whole fruits and veggies makes them much easier for kids to eat and in some cases; it even makes it more appealing to eat. This means that the kids will be much more likely to eat all their fruits and veggies if cut up properly and will minimize food wastage to a considerable extent.
The kitchen staff responsible for making meals can be trained to cook food more sustainably by cutting fruits and vegetables in a way that there is the least possible wastage of the fruit/vegetable. They should be careful enough to not cause any more wastage.
Ensuring Quality Control of the Food
Ensuring better quality fresh food is also crucial. Students are much more likely to throw away stale food that does not appeal to them but may think twice before throwing away warm fresh food.
Adjusting Recess Time
Adjusting the school timetable can also help significantly. Scheduling Recess before lunch is a huge factor that can help reduce food waste. When students are allowed to go to recess before they eat, they will be less tempted to go outside and play during lunch break and will eat more. Not only this it will greatly increase their appetite and ensure that they eat properly. Which can also help reduce food waste in school overall.
Expose Students to World Issues Regarding Food
Exposing young students to the statistics regarding the world food crisis and global hunger can also make them more considerate and responsible. Ask your students/children if they know how many people go to bed hungry at night? Currently, the figure is 8.9% of the world’s population that is 690 million people who are hungry and starving right now. Teach children about food waste in school, can help them understand and take action.
Learning about food waste in schools
Conclusively it can be said that the food waste issue right now might be widespread but if the world leaders unite and shed light on this problem and create policies to bring an end to this, excessive wastage of food can be minimized greatly. Our children can easily be educated through awareness and can be shaped into responsible young citizens who carefully weigh their actions, recognize their privilege, and say no to food wastage! Learning about food waste in school can help the children understand more and possibly come up with solutions in the future.
If you want to read more about food waste, specifically the effects of food waste, or learn about a way to solve food waste is upcycling.