How to reduce food waste at school

Kapil Mehrotra, Head of Manchester International School, Coimbatore, India

This article describes activities of grade 5 students undertaken to reduce food waste at school as part of their PYP exhibition journey.

One of the major issues we experienced in our school was wastage of food during snacks and lunch time. This was the observation of one of the students who later discussed this issue with his classmates. They thought about the food that is being wasted and what might be ways to reuse it.

From there the exhibition topic took off. This group of students expressed interest in finding the ways to solve this problem. The journey started with finding out about the quantity of food that is being wasted. The following activities took place.

Recording and analyzing data
A food wastage chart was prepared by the students to record the amount of food wasted in the cafeteria. This field experience made them realize the practical difficulties in using the which was revised to include categorizing the food to find out which was wasted the most (applying meta cognition skills). The data was recorded for a week and then summarized.

Finding the cause of wastage
The next step undertaken was to find the cause of wastage. The students conducted a whole school survey about food likes and dislikes. They developed survey forms that included favourite snack, lunch and the food that is wasted the most. Then they requested the homeroom teachers to complete the survey with their classes. The results were collected and analyzed. They also ranked the food based on number of likes and dislikes.

Mathematics integration
Students also made it a point to check the quantity of the food wasted. They used their understanding of measurement of mass to find out the total quantity of food being cooked and out of that the total quantity wasted. The results were converted into percentage and graphs to do a comparative study of the days when the food was wasted the most and the days when food is wasted the least. Finally, they presented their data through bar graphs, pie charts and pyramids.

Next steps
Future plans include raising funds, connecting with an NGO, and providing refrigerators to small restaurants so that they can refrigerate the left-over food and distribute it to those in need. Our students feel that no one should remain hungry and that these actions will help to make a difference.

Kapil Mehrotra is the Head of Manchester International School, Coimbatore and associated with the IB PYP for the past 14 years – previously a PYP teacher and coordinator. He likes to engage students actively in their own learning by encouraging them to think, inquire, take risks & work on their communication skills. Kapil uses various techniques of assessments including pre-assessing of students existing knowledge and assessments for learning to develop students readiness, interest and the IB learner profile. You can follow him on Twitter @MEHROTRAKAPIL

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7 Responses to How to reduce food waste at school

  1. Niru Raghuram 1 August 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    Great article..an issue that cuts across schools around the world.

  2. Abhimanyu Das Gupta 1 August 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Really happy to know about the initiative taken by your students! Great to read about you too!

  3. Karuna 2 August 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    What a thought provoking initiative …kudos to the students for this

  4. Aruna 3 August 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    Very interesting responses and plan of action.

  5. Words Sweet 5 August 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    Anyway, the world is throwing more than it consumes. It’s too difficult to control this phenomenon!

  6. Amparo Estruch 11 August 2017 at 10:43 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. Very useful and revealing for students.kinf of food they eat, amount and habits.

  7. Linda Camelo 8 November 2017 at 1:30 am #

    I really liked your article! This is an inspiring research on how PYP philosophy encourages us teachers to apply knowledge to students’ real lives and more than these…. Engage them to act and be responsable citizens.

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