...and we need to do more to change that

What?

Add three words, "reducing food waste", to the Massachusetts Department of Education grades 5, 7 and 8 science curriculum guidelines.

The science curriculum guidelines include positive climate impact practices like: reusing, recycling, composting, using renewable energy, carpooling and taking public transportation. The guidelines, unfortunately, do not include any reference to reducing food waste. Students also need to learn that reducing food waste matters because it is more effective at reducing CO2 emission equivalents than all the other practices combined.

Pie chart prepared with data from Project Drawdown

Why?

  1. Top solution for fighting climate change

  2. Saves money and resources

    • In the US, we waste 40% of the food we produce.

    • Food waste is a primary cause of habitat loss and depletion of freshwater supply (WWF).

    • It takes 100 gallons of water to produce a single one-pound potato.

    • The land area in the US that is used to grow wasted food is equal in area to California and New York state combined (EPA).

    • The average US family spends about $1800 on wasted food each year.

  3. Everyone, of all ages, can make a big difference

    • By including reducing food waste in the curriculum guidelines, we can ensure that our students learn that it is one of the key solutions to solve the climate crisis. Understanding impact can motivate practical yet powerful behavioral changes, like taking smaller portions.

    • Middle School students who have participated in units that include reducing food waste have said:

      • “Knowing how food waste affects our planet makes me be more careful about what I’m eating and whether or not I think I’ll finish.”

      • “It is also something for everyone to think about because it is something we can all improve on.”

Please add your name to the list of supporters to request the Massachusetts Department of Education to simply add “reducing food waste” to the existing sustainable practices already in the Science curriculum guidelines.


Questions or comments? Please contact: FoodWasteEducationMatters@gmail.com

Additional Information and Resources

Your support is urgently needed:


According to the United Nations Environment Programme, "the true scale of food waste and its impact [on the environment] have not been well understood until now. As such, the opportunities [to reduce emissions] provided by food waste reduction have remained largely untapped and under-used." After calculating the potential to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions, Project Drawdown ranks food waste reduction as the #1 solution (out of 93 climate solutions) for halting temperature rise at 2 °C by 2100.


Education is critical to reduce food waste because 39% of food waste occurs at the consumer level.


A group of interested citizens, teachers, and state legislators have been working for over a year to advance this initiative to include reducing food waste in the Massachusetts science curriculum guidelines. At this time, we need your help to amplify this request and show the Massachusetts Department of Education that there are many climate conscious citizens who support this initiative.



The change is simple:


Food waste reduction belongs with existing Instructional Guidelines for the Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Curriculum Framework.


There are 3 standards in grades 5, 7, and 8 where “reducing food waste” can be easily added to the “additional guidelines” of the Earth and Human Activity Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) - ESS3. Updating these standards now will make our curriculum more impactful.

Grade 5, standard 5-ESS3-1 (pg 12): "Students should be able to...evaluate and compare ways communities can reduce human impact on Earth’s resources and environment. Examples include:... reducing, reusing, recycling, or composting materials, and reducing food waste."


Grades 7, standard 7.MS-ESS3-4 and grade 8, standard 8.MS-ESS3-5 (pg 12): "Students should be able to...analyze situations to identify ways to decrease human impact on the environment, such as using renewable energy resources, carpooling or taking public transportation, reducing stormwater runoff, and recycling, and reducing food waste."

The change is needed:


Without its deliberate inclusion into the curriculum, food waste reduction is, and will continue to be, overlooked by many teachers as it is not yet reliably included in many resources. Information about food waste can be easily found when we deliberately look for it, however, many people remain unaware of the benefits of this simple, sustainable practice as it is still frequently overlooked in many reputable resources on addressing climate change. Adding “food waste reduction” into the curriculum is a meaningful way to build awareness of this powerful and very practical practice.


Resources on addressing climate change that do not yet reference reducing food waste include:


1, NASA: What can we do to help? NASA Climate Kids (recommends growing your own food to reduce emissions from the transportation of food, but not reducing food waste)


2, National Geographic: 13 ways to save the Earth from climate change (mentions eating local and plant-based diet, but not reducing food waste)


Textbooks:

TCI: Bring Science Alive! Exploring for grade 5

Prentice Hall, Environmental Science for grade 7

The impact is significant:


The World Wildlife Fund’s Food Waste Warriors curriculum has been successfully used in 46 schools across 9 cities, as detailed in this report.


Even simple classroom discussions about food waste reduction can have an impact:

  • Karen D., Grade 5 teacher: “From the 5-10 minute read aloud, students have chosen to 1) save the uneaten half of their sandwich and eat it after school when they are hungry 2) not take “seconds” at dinner unless they are going to eat all of the food.”

  • Rebecca G., Grade 7 teacher: “This year I incorporated discussions on food waste reduction into several aspects of my already well-developed curriculum. Students were engaged and felt empowered to make changes that they could actually do.”


What students have to say once they know how much reducing food waste matters:

  • Diego: “It is also something for everyone to think about because it is something we can all improve on.”

  • Nina: “Knowing how food waste affects our planet makes me be more careful about what I’m eating and whether or not I think I’ll finish.”

  • Ace: “Thanks to her teaching me about food waste I'm able to tell my family and have us save money!”

  • Rafa: “Since my teacher has taught me about food waste I been serving myself in a smaller plate and then getting seconds if I still want them, I have been saving more food in my fridge instead of throwing it away.”

  • Jasmine: "I make sure to look around my whole fridge when getting food, so nothing that’s going bad is left unchecked. I serve myself smaller portions of food, so that I don’t have any left over on my plate, and I can always take more if I want."

  • Isa: "I’ve been adjusting my habits- throwing away less food and saving it or packing less next time instead, and reminding my family to do the same."

  • Rayna: “I myself have been lucky to learn about this and it has severely impacted the way I view my food.”

Questions or comments? Please contact: FoodWasteEducationMatters@gmail.com