Understanding factors related to food waste in Swedish primary schools

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för byggnadsteknik, energisystem och miljövetenskap

Author: Roula Yandem; Fatima Fkhir; [2023]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Production and consumption of food have several environmental impacts, regardless of the type of food production. However, food production can have a particularly large impact on the environment, as it often causes pollution and spreads harmful contaminants in nature. Additionally, a lot of food is produced today, which leads to a significant amount being wasted and contributing to environmental problems. In Sweden, approximately 1.3 million meals are served daily in schools. There is a need to study food waste, its causes, amounts, and what can be done to reduce it. Therefore, the factors affecting food waste in school cafeterias must be known, and different methods can be used, such as interviews and surveys. By investigating the causes of food waste, problem areas can be identified, and solutions can be found to reduce food waste. The study underscores the importance of studying food waste and increasing awareness to promote sustainability. It is an important task that requires cooperation and commitment from all involved parties and can have positive effects on both the environment and society as a whole. In this study, several factors contributing to the problem were identified, and suggestions for measures to reduce waste were presented. One of the major challenges is the lack of awareness and education about food waste among both students and teachers. The results indicated that the topic is rarely discussed in the classroom, resulting in insufficient knowledge about how to reduce waste. Another important factor is students' dissatisfaction with the taste of the food, which leads to incomplete meals or leftovers on their plates. To address students' needs, improvements in menu planning are proposed, including collaboration with professional chefs and dieticians to offer a diverse menu that can reduce waste. A short lunchtime and the pressure to return to classes on time also contribute to food waste. To mitigate waste, measures such as increasing awareness through classroom discussions and information campaigns are suggested. Involving students in menu planning and ensuring they have sufficient time to eat can also contribute to waste reduction. Education on nutrition, healthy eating habits, and portion control is emphasized as crucial. 

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