Authors: Jessica Cordes, Anne Boyd, Ellen Lakusiak, Puja Pachchigar, William Roberts, Jay Stanford
What is food waste? What are the problems associated with it? How can we prevent and reduce food waste at home?
These are the questions that parents and teachers will be exploring with students aged 5-18 this fall as a result of the Middlesex London Food Policy Council’s food waste lesson plans, developed as a bonus feature for the virtual Western Fair this year. There are two sets of lessons; one for students aged 5-11, and one for students aged 12-18. As a bonus feature of the Western Fair, the lessons will be available all week of the fair (and after the event)!
Food waste is an issue that interacts with the food system at various points of the supply chain including during production, processing, retail, and in households. While an entire analysis of food waste and its implications was out of the scope of these lesson plans, these two sets of lessons focus on avoidable food waste in households where students can potentially help to significantly reduce the amount of wasted food. The materials in these lessons have been created as educational resources for teaching students about food waste with the following learning outcomes:
- Students will understand what food waste is
- Students will describe some problems related to food waste
- Students will understand solutions for reducing food waste at home
Each set of lessons includes a slide deck introducing the topic; a short video paired with reflection questions; and a collection of three activities where students explore practical solutions for reducing food waste at home.
Storage Stars is an activity that focuses on food waste that occurs prior to meal production; for example, produce that spoils in the fridge before it is used. Students are asked to record food that is discarded in their homes, how that food was stored, and the reason for it being discarded. Next, students determine which foods are discarded the most, and whether they are able to improve the storage method and prolong the food’s freshness. For example, if bread is normally stored in a bag on the counter, an improvement in storage would be to keep it in the fridge or freezer.
The Plate Waste activity focuses on food waste that occurs post meal production, such as leftovers on plates that are scraped into the garbage. The activity encourages students to track how much food is thrown away as leftovers in their home, and how that amount can be reduced.
Waste Prevention Recipes offer flexible recipes that encourage students to use up vegetables that may lose freshness soon. By changing eating habits to focus on what food is currently in the fridge and needs to be used up, instead of what meal we’re most in the mood for, we can establish storage, cooking and eating patterns that help to reduce food waste at home.