Event Website

http://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/news-events-conferences/last-food-mile-conference

Start Date

9-12-2014 3:30 PM

End Date

9-12-2014 3:50 PM

Description

This fall a team of three 8th grade students at Samuel B. Huey Elementary School in West Philadelphia (52nd and Pine) worked together with a staff and graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania to implement a participatory action research project to better understand how much school food is wasted and why it is thrown away. The Food Service Division of the School District of Philadelphia is the 5th largest in the country, serving 29 million meals per year at a cost of approximately $85 million. Although thousands of meals are delivered each day and served, free of charge, to all students attending public schools in Philadelphia, there is little data on how much of this food is actually consumed. In a survey of 434 SDP workers conducted in 2013, 64% reported that at least half the food served at school is wasted. For our project, we measured school food waste using several different strategies. The research team measured plate waste on 3 occasions between October and November by weighing and sorting individual Kindergarten classroom waste. This was conducted by measuring total school food weight (food + serving containers), weight of individual serving containers, and then total waste. The waste was also sorted into categories so the number of unopened food containers could be measured. Kindergarten classrooms were chosen as research sites because the eating is self-contained and data collection was more efficient and accurate. Surveys, interviews, and photo-voice were also used to measure attitudes and beliefs about food waste among the upper grades. Our findings suggest that on average, approximately 35% of food is wasted in Kindergarten classrooms. Furthermore, when vegetables are served in individual serving containers about half are thrown out without being opened. These findings have significant implications, both nutritionally and financially. The most nutrient dense foods are the same foods most likely to be wasted. Wasting food is wasting money that could be spent on more palatable offerings. After the food is thrown out, the amount of waste is also related to the amount the school district needs to spend on waste management. We need to focus our energy on serving healthy foods the kids that they want to eat, and also increase education and professional development across the school food team- from administrators, to school food staff, to noon-time aids and teachers, to the students themselves.

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Student group, West Philadelphia public school

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Dec 9th, 3:30 PM Dec 9th, 3:50 PM

School Lunch: Why So Much Is Wasted and What Can Be Done About It

This fall a team of three 8th grade students at Samuel B. Huey Elementary School in West Philadelphia (52nd and Pine) worked together with a staff and graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania to implement a participatory action research project to better understand how much school food is wasted and why it is thrown away. The Food Service Division of the School District of Philadelphia is the 5th largest in the country, serving 29 million meals per year at a cost of approximately $85 million. Although thousands of meals are delivered each day and served, free of charge, to all students attending public schools in Philadelphia, there is little data on how much of this food is actually consumed. In a survey of 434 SDP workers conducted in 2013, 64% reported that at least half the food served at school is wasted. For our project, we measured school food waste using several different strategies. The research team measured plate waste on 3 occasions between October and November by weighing and sorting individual Kindergarten classroom waste. This was conducted by measuring total school food weight (food + serving containers), weight of individual serving containers, and then total waste. The waste was also sorted into categories so the number of unopened food containers could be measured. Kindergarten classrooms were chosen as research sites because the eating is self-contained and data collection was more efficient and accurate. Surveys, interviews, and photo-voice were also used to measure attitudes and beliefs about food waste among the upper grades. Our findings suggest that on average, approximately 35% of food is wasted in Kindergarten classrooms. Furthermore, when vegetables are served in individual serving containers about half are thrown out without being opened. These findings have significant implications, both nutritionally and financially. The most nutrient dense foods are the same foods most likely to be wasted. Wasting food is wasting money that could be spent on more palatable offerings. After the food is thrown out, the amount of waste is also related to the amount the school district needs to spend on waste management. We need to focus our energy on serving healthy foods the kids that they want to eat, and also increase education and professional development across the school food team- from administrators, to school food staff, to noon-time aids and teachers, to the students themselves.

https://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/3

 

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