School is back in full swing for the 2023-2024 school year! As September turns to October, we all settle into fall routines. Friday, September 29th, is International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste, marking it the perfect day to start reducing food waste in school cafeterias as part of the fall routine.
In 2019, WWF’s Food Waste Warriors report, A Deep Dive into Food Waste in Schools, estimated that schools generate 530,000 tons of food waste annually, equating to 1.9M metric tons of CO2, 20.9 billion gallons of water, and $1.7 billion in school funds. This is important because this food waste impacts resources like water, energy, biodiversity, and school budgets.
Knowing how much is at stake, the school cafeteria can become a classroom where we prioritize food waste reduction and by doing so, reduce emissions and water use while also saving money. To help schools take action and educate students about the food system’s impact on our environment, WWF is introducing a NEW cafeteria calendar and animated video to help schools get started TODAY with forming a food waste warrior team, conducting a cafeteria food waste audit, and using our Food Waste Warrior toolkit for additional support.
Imagine a future where US schools make food waste reduction a priority and integrate food systems education into classrooms. This can all start one school at a time, planting the seed and watching it grow. You can stay updated on the Be a Food Waste Warrior homepage for news on current partnerships happening this fall with schools in Orlando and Seattle (as well as Baltimore, Chicago, Madison, and Rockbridge, VA alongside the Multiscale RECIPES network) as we continue to study innovative food waste strategies like share tables and teacher stipends to improve student nutrition, reduce school food waste, and empower students to drive change!