School pupils reduce food waste by a third through social media

WasteLESS Week campaign uses Instagram and Twitter to discourage food waste.

A school in south west London has successfully reduced its level of food waste by a third, through an innovative campaign, using social media.

The ‘WasteLESS Week’ campaign was introduced at Emanuel School in Battersea and saw senior school pupils share images of their empty plates via Instagram and Twitter.

Started by the school’s catering manager, Phyllis Street, who joined the International Food Waste Coalition on behalf of Sodexo, along with member organisations such as McCain, Unilever and the United Nations, the aim of the project was to reduce waste whilst engaging pupils in the process.

Recognising that teachers had limited time to teach children about waste management, Street enlisted the help of the school’s eco committee to encourage pupils to take just enough food, rather than fill their plates. With dedicated posters and presentations to the various school year assemblies, all pupils were encouraged to be more mindful of the food on their plates.

After noticing how engaged the older pupils were with social media, Phylis created two dedicated  Instagram and Twitter platforms for specific campaign periods in order to drive more interaction with the youngsters during WasteLESS Week.

Younger pupils are also able to get involved by signing their name on a board once they had cleared their plates.

Pupils are incentivised to share their images for the chance to win food vouchers, shop credits or even queue jumps.

Within one week, the school had saved more than 360 litres of food waste and to date it has reported a 34% reduction in food waste.

The savings made by the school have been put right back into the school to encourage healthy eating. They can now afford to offer the 900 plus pupils a piece of fruit to take away each day.

Phyllis Street, Emanuel School catering manager for Sodexo said “It’s so encouraging to see the children become more conscious about food waste. It has now become second nature for them to take a small amount first, and then ask for more if they are still hungry. 

“What’s interesting is that the younger pupils seem to have the most influence over the rest of the school. Once they are engaged, it spreads.”

WasteLESS Week, created by Sodexo, is now held once a term at the school, as part of a wider vision to cut food wastage across the school through SKOOL, the first action-oriented programme by the International Food Waste Coalition, being rolled out by Sodexo.

The programme aims to educate children, optimise meal production in schools and promote value chain collaboration among food service companies.

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