Lunchbox Leftovers Program a Massive Success on the Mid North Coast

Crossmaglen students taking part in a beeswax wrap workshop. A great alternative to plastic food wrap.

 

NINE schools on the Mid North Coast participated in a new pilot Lunchbox Leftovers program to cut food waste in schools, help families save money, and have a positive impact on the environment as part of MidWaste’s involvement in the NSW Government’s Love Food Communities program.

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The Lunchbox Leftovers program trialled three innovative implementations – Make Your Own Lunch, Take Leftovers Home and Play Before Eating.

Every student wastes 3kg of food each year on average. In Australia each year, students throw away 3.5 million uneaten sandwiches, 3 million pieces of whole fruit and 1.3 million items of packaged foods.

The schools worked with MidWaste, BehaviourWorks Australia and the NSW Environment Protection Authority to explore effective food waste reduction measures in NSW schools.

Some Lunchbox Leftovers schools educated and empowered students to make their own lunches, others swapped the lunch break timetable so that students played first before eating, while others adopted a new policy where leftover food goes home.

The interventions aimed to increase the amount of food eaten and reduce waste.

The program found that leftovers going home and promoting student involvement in lunch making substantially increased students’ involvement in choosing and making food for school.

Students who played before eating at lunchtime reported eating more food by the end of the term.

Some of the schools had a noticeable reduction in food waste, packaging waste and an increase in students bringing healthier food options to school.

Renee Stokes-Marshall, Principal Crossmaglen Public School said, “This project has complimented our sustainability focus.

“Grazing lunch boxes have reduced packaging and overall food wastage.”

MidWaste Project Officer Wendy Grant said, “The outcomes from this pilot present an exciting opportunity to change behaviours and increase food waste reduction in NSW schools.”

All families can learn more about how to reduce food waste at home by signing up for the free online Food Smart program at www.midwaste.org.au/food-smart.

The nine participating schools were Crossmaglen School, Smithtown Public School, Kinchela Public School, St Mary’s Primary Bellingen, Kempsey Adventist School, Lansdowne Public School, St Columba Anglican School, Bungwahl Public School, and Aldavilla Primary School.

This project is a Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

 

By Sandra MOON

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