Let’s Reduce Food Waste Together! I’m so excited to share with you the No Waste Challenge that we have implemented at the Barn this summer. The campers have readily embraced the challenge to the surprise of our counselors. Recycling is one of HealthBarn USA’s 7 healthy habits and we empower kids to practice the 5 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, respect and responsibility). We made a significant step forward in recycling especially during school field trips by sorting garbage into bins: paper, aluminum, glass, plastic & tin cans, compost and regular garbage. I thought we were doing enough until I went to India to work in a hospital and saw firsthand how little waste they create in comparison to us.
My first lesson in India was peeling potatoes in the hospital. My old school technique left flesh on the skin instead of scraping them — a technique I had to learn. The nurses were so upset that I wasted flesh that I was asked to dispose of my skins by feeding them to the local cows. Another important lesson I learned was not taking more food than I needed. In India, it is said that if you take more food then you eat, then you are taking it from another person who may not have enough. This really made me think about how our kids eat and tend to toss their food in the trash mindlessly.
Here’s our solution (fun to do at home, too!):
- One of the kids volunteer to be the “plate scrapper” at meal-times;
- Before kids head to the trash bin after the meal, they hand their plate to the “scrapper” who scrapes any waste onto the communal plate to get weighed and recorded (so that they can beat their waste from the last meal and track their progress);
- The communal waste is then disposed of into the compost bucket unless it contains meat.
Bonus: The kids wanted to always be zero waste, so they decided to take less (a great way to teach portion control nutritionally) and if they were still hungry, go up for seconds! And, if they had food on their plate that they didn’t eat, they would share it with others!
The secret is to engage the kids and let them organize how this new system would work — to teach them how have fun and to eat responsibly! I’m so proud and energized by their eagerness to protect the planet which is critical for this generation of little ones!
Share your ideas on reducing food waste at home.
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.
I analyzed the use of disposable plates, utensils and paper towels as well as the amount of food thrown the garbage we blew through especially during the summer which is our busiest season.