Engage your children in reducing your carbon footprint with OzHarvest. Jaleesa Simpson chatted to the food rescue organisation about their new schools program.

OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue organisation. They collect high quality excess food from commercial outlets like grocery stores, restaurants and hotels, and deliver it to more than 1,300 charities across Australia. This gives people nourishing, beautiful food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Not content with stopping there, OzHarvest have recently launched their school curriculum program FEAST in Queensland. The STEM-aligned, curriculum-accredited program inspires kids to eat healthy, waste less and be change-makers in their local community.

Food waste is a big issue

You wouldn’t throw out one of every five grocery bags, right? Well, you probably do.

Even though five million people experience food insecurity each year, one in every five shopping bags ends up in the bin. As a result, Australia’s food waste bill is $20 billion.

This food waste that decomposes in landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide; contributing significantly to your carbon footprint.

When you look at school-aged children, though, the figures are even harder to read. One child in every classroom goes to bed or school hungry every day. Additionally, one in four children are overweight or obese and many do not eat enough fresh fruit and veggies, which impacts their learning and can lead to poor physical and mental health.

Food insecurity and poor food education is an issue in Australians schools. And it’s easy to see the negative impact of food waste.

So how do we help resolve this issue?

It’s an issue we can solve

OzHarvest’s FEAST program is helping to fight food waste through education, while also teaching primary school students essential cooking and nutrition skills. The program’s aim is to combine theory and practice for students to learn about food waste, sustainability and healthy eating, while learning to create a recipe.

64% of students had a greater awareness of what is going into their bins at home.

“FEAST is our education program for primary school students in years 5 & 6,” Madison Lucas, Queensland FEAST Education Coordinator, shared.

“The reason that we’ve created this program is we know that education is crucial for positive change, so for people to waste less in their houses and be change-makers in their community we have to start with education.

“FEAST runs for 7-10 weeks in schools, and the really great thing about the program is that we train teachers, so they’re equipped with skills to be able to teach their students about sustainability, food waste and nutrition.”

Because FEAST is fully funded for the first 50 schools in Queensland, schools receive learning resources, program content, kitchen kit and support – all they need to provide is the groceries.

Creating change in schools

The heart behind OzHarvest’s FEAST program is to create change-makers in local communities.

“It’s really important to engage primary school students because they can make an impact,” Madison shared.

By leading the change from a young age, children can influence their parents’ behaviours and create life-long skills.

90% of our students that have completed the program said they wanted to do more cooking at home with their families.

“When students undertake the program, 64% had a greater awareness of what’s going into their bins at home,” Madison said.

“A really great thing about FEAST and teaching kids about food waste and cooking in the classroom is they get to share that knowledge with their parents when they come home.”

At the end of FEAST, students have the cooking confidence to be creative and design their own healthy wasty recipes. They then combine these recipes into a school cookbook.

Get involved from home

The great news is that FEAST isn’t just available in schools, with FEAST At Home allowing parents and children to learn about sustainable cooking practices.

FEAST At Home includes cooking activities kids can do with their parents or carers, which includes learning basic cooking skills like slicing and dicing vegetables to make healthy family meals.

There are also sustainable activities like food audits and designing your own wasty recipes at home.

Want to get involved?

OzHarvest have released FEAST At Home, so you can take part with your little ones. From child-friendly waste audits to tasty, wasty, make-with-family recipes, get involved here.

If you want your child’s school to take part in FEAST, let your teacher or principal know that OzHarvest’s FEAST program is fun, supported and funded in Queensland. Or download the FEAST brochure and share it with your school. Get in contact with the team at feast.qld@ozharvest.org