Skip to main content.
Skip to top level navigation.

Love Food Hate Waste resources inspire students to make a difference, one lunchbox at a time

Issue: Volume 96, Number 22

Posted: 09:00am, 11 Dec 2017
Reference #: 1H9gnQ

Love Food Hate Waste, a non-profit organisation inspired by a similar campaign in the UK, has produced some great classroom resources for schools about food waste and how to help minimise it.

St John’s Primary students display their lunchboxes.

Many schools have introduced compost bins and worm farms in an effort to limit food waste, but until recently there have been limited New Zealand classroom resources that teachers could turn to, which focus on getting great learning outcomes from such efforts. In fact, it’s likely that lots of schools have been unaware of just how much edible food is wasted.

In Western Australia, a recent government study found that the average student wastes three kilos of food from their lunchbox every year. Half-eaten sandwiches and apples are often the biggest contributor. Love Food Hate Waste has developed a set of four resources that enables a class to calculate how much food they waste and appreciate the time and effort that goes into producing food, and offers some solutions as to how they can reduce their food waste.

St John’s Primary in Mairangi Bay, Auckland, has been one of the first schools to use the resources. 

Rochelle Dixon, who teaches a year 2 class, explains: “Our school was running a unit on sustainability and we started by looking at how much food we wasted. The children had to keep all their ‘rubbish’ in their school lunchboxes, and in the afternoon we emptied all that had been left in their lunchboxes on to a tarpaulin. The visual effect was quite confronting! 

“Children were shocked at how much waste there was, from plastic packaging and containers to half-eaten and untouched food that was going to be thrown away. Uneaten food made up by far the largest proportion. Once [it was] weighed, we realised our class was wasting 3.7 kilos per day, which added up to 18 kilograms a week or 180 kilograms a term, for just our class!

“The children’s discussion that followed on from this activity shaped the direction of our sustainability unit. Children were really motivated to find ways to reduce the amount of waste not just in their lunches, but in everyday classrooms and at home too. I had parents telling me that their children wouldn’t let them waste at home, and that they had to cross the road to pick up rubbish off the street!” 

As the learning progressed, and with the support of ‘Activity 3: Why is wasting food wrong?’ from Love Food Hate Waste,
St John’s students realised that ‘wasting’ doesn’t just mean wasting the food we see. Wasting food also means wasting time, resources (like soil, water, fuel, and packaging), money and effort that goes into the production of the food in the first place. 

The class introduced a bokashi bin and worm farm, and children were encouraged to make their own sustainable lunches. The class then used the compost from the bokashi bin to fertilise garden soil and started up an edible garden outside the classroom. The children loved planting the garden, taking care of it, and enjoying the fresh produce that came from it – making sure not to waste any of course! 

The hands-on activities, which link to The New Zealand Curriculum, not only enable students to understand and identify a major issue that affects the entire world, but also give them the opportunity to play their part in making a difference. By focusing on reducing how much food we waste, the Love Food Hate Waste resource acts as a natural introduction to the waste hierarchy, where reduction is a key focus, followed by reusing and recycling.

Love Food Hate Waste spokesperson Jenny Marshall says: “Often schools focus on teaching students about composting and worm farming or recycling, which are solutions for dealing with the waste which we create. However, it is important to also look at what we can do to create less waste in the first place.”

You can find more information on Love Food Hate Waste at link)  

The Ministry of Education also has these resources on waste, sustainability and recycling: link) link)  


STUDENT VOICE: St John’s Primary year 2 students on Love Food Hate Waste

What really surprised you about food waste when you were learning about the topic?

Zoe: “If you looked at it, it was a big pile and it was like a mini landfill, and it was just one class and we wondered what it would be like if everyone did that in the world.”

Mirna: “When they put the food inside the landfill it starts to break up and becomes a gas, like greenhouse gas.”

Ashlyn: “If you looked at it up close there was more food waste than rubbish waste.”

Amelia: “There were whole sandwiches in the pile, and people didn’t eat all their food.”

Leon: “The amount of food we wasted was more amazing than if the All Whites win against Peru.”

Alora: “It only was one class that made all the waste, most people had stuff they didn’t like in their lunchboxes so we have to put food we like in our lunchboxes so we do not waste.”

Will: “When we eat our lunch we shouldn’t just leave a whole pile of food left otherwise we waste stuff like food, money, parents’ money and everything that your parents buy for you.”

What do you think is the easiest thing everybody can do to lessen the waste we all produce?

Charlotte: “We have to ask our mum and dad if they can pack stuff in our lunchboxes that we will eat and then we won’t waste lots of things that we don’t want.”

Grace: “We could put food that the worms can eat in our worm farm.”

Will: “We need to eat all of our food in our lunchbox otherwise we waste the whole world.”

What sort of things are your school doing to stop wasting so much food?

Amelia: “We put food scraps in the worm farm.”

Grace: “We got a bokashi bin for the scraps that can’t go in a worm farm. Once it was full we put it in the garden because it helps the garden to grow.”

Zoe: “We put stuff in our lunchboxes that we like to eat but we have to put not just junk, we have to put vegetables and we have to eat everything.”




BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 09:12am, 11 December 2017

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts