Development and Impact of a Pilot Program and Educational Campaign to Address Food Waste and Recycling Knowledge and Behaviors in a Public Elementary SchoolShow full item record
|Title||Development and Impact of a Pilot Program and Educational Campaign to Address Food Waste and Recycling Knowledge and Behaviors in a Public Elementary School|
|Abstract||Objectives: 1) Create a sustainability pilot program that includes recycling, composting, and a Share Table to reduce cafeteria and other school waste. 2) Measure the impact of the pilot program on elementary school children?s knowledge and behaviors related to waste. Background: Approximately 40% of food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten each year. Meanwhile, 45% of food served in elementary schools is wasted. Methods: A 52-question survey was developed to measure knowledge and behaviors related to food waste, composting, and recycling. Researchers administered the pre- and post-surveys to a convenience sample of elementary school children before and after an educational campaign and the implementation of an eight-week sustainability pilot program. Results: First through fifth grade children served as participants and completed 191 surveys including pre-surveys (n=97) and post-surveys (n=94). Mean participant age was 8.62+/-1.6 years. Following the educational campaign and pilot program, total compost knowledge scores improved significantly (p<0.01). Additionally, subjective knowledge of food waste and subjective knowledge of composting both improved significantly (p<0.01). Participants were more likely to report that they shared food that they did not want to eat following the pilot program and educational campaign (p<0.05). Participants who agreed that composting fights food waste were more likely to report eating leftovers at home (r=.29, p<0.01). Conclusions: Sustainability programs may be successfully implemented in schools to promote positive behaviors and improve knowledge among children related to recycling, composting, and food waste reduction efforts. These efforts may positively influence behaviors at both school and in the home. Ongoing education is necessary as evidenced by consistent inaccuracies following an educational program. However, sustainability efforts in schools can help address the current food waste crisis facing the United States.|
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