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How Can We Reduce Food Waste?

Thinking about World Food Day on 16 October 2018

by Tim and Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider that reducing food waste in the UK and eating more healthily should be a priority for all of us.

Preparation and materials


  1. On 16 October, it is World Food Day, a day that is celebrated around the world. It was established by the United Nations to raise awareness about the importance of food for human survival and well-being. The aim was also to emphasize that access to food is a fundamental human right. The UN World Food Programme was set up in 1961 and is supported by governments across the world to help countries in desperate need of food aid.

  2. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states, ‘Children have the right to good quality health care . . . to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment and information to help them stay healthy. Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this.’

  3. Food is in short supply for many people in the world, yet in the UK, we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink every year, most of which could have been consumed. Most of this food is, or was once, perfectly good food. Why does so much food that could be eaten get thrown away? There are two main reasons.

    - People cooking or preparing too much food (for example, rice or pasta).
    - People not using food in time – not eating food before it goes past its ‘use-by’ date.

  4. With a little bit of planning and knowledge, we can gain the confidence to use up leftovers. The Love Food Hate Waste website, available at:, provides some excellent suggestions that can help with this.

  5. Reducing food waste is a major issue and it is not just about good food going to waste. Wasting food costs the average family with children £700 a year, and has serious environmental implications, too. If we all stopped wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road!

  6. Fortunately, most of us have food in abundance and never experience the hunger and starvation that millions of people, especially children, endure around the world. Figures from the World Food Programme show that 795 million people in the world do not have enough to eat to live a healthy, active life. That is about one in every nine people. Other figures show that poor nutrition is responsible for nearly half (45 per cent) of deaths in children under five each year.

  7. There are many reasons as to why so many people go hungry, such as crop failure caused by a changing climate, lack of money to buy food and corrupt governments failing to distribute food fairly.

Time for reflection

At this time of year, there are often harvest festivals in schools, churches and farming communities to celebrate and give thanks to God for another year of abundant food when the harvest is gathered in. People of faith believe that God is the owner of the world’s resources and blesses people by providing a good harvest of crops. The Bible teaches that human beings are called to be wise stewards of the earth and its resources – a call that, sadly, we often fail to heed.

In the UK, the problem for most people is not lack of food, but eating too much of the wrong food, which can harm our bodies. We all know that eating too much salty and fatty food is unhealthy for us. The truth is that many people in this country are not undernourished, but malnourished. All of us have control over the food we eat, but sometimes, we lack the willpower to keep ourselves healthy. We need to remember that we are in a very privileged position – we have the choice of what food we eat.

Thank you, Lord, for the harvest, and for the abundant food that most of us have in this country.
Thank you for the warm sun, the sustaining rain, the rich soil and the hard-working farmers.
Please help us to use the food that you provide for us wisely and responsibly so that we may be healthy and reduce the wastage of good food.
We remember those who are hungry and ill through lack of food. Please help us to help them.


Any harvest song.

Publication date: October 2016   (Vol.18 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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