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Home > Teen Blog > June 2019 > Youth Leaders Tackle Food Waste in New York City Schools
Youth Leaders Tackle Food Waste in New York City Schools
Posted: 6/11/2019 4:27:16 PM

Intrepid Teen Blog

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By Dejonaye H- GOALS Ambassador

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum's Youth Leadership Institute encourages high school students to develop their inner leader. One of the participants, Laura, is 16 and she attends the Baccalaureate School for Global Education. She is a very artistic person who wants to pursue communications as a major in college. Laura first found out about YLI because she had originally been part of the GOALS for Girls cohort in 2016. She loved the program because she made amazing friends and learned so much. When Laura heard about the YLI program, she signed up to further grow and learn to communicate more effectively.

While at YLI, participants like Laura were placed in a group, and each one had to choose a topic to do a research and an advocacy project on. Laura's group chose the topic of food waste because they realized it is an enduring issue in New York City high schools. According to the NYC Department of Sanitation, the majority of garbage produced at schools are food waste and paper, cardboard materials. The team said they all have seen a lot of food being thrown out amongst their own peers.

One of the issues is that students are required to choose food that they might not want. Instead of just eating it, many students just throw the food away. The food we are wasting in New York City public schools could help feed the less fortunate. So the main focus of Laura's group is to investigate the amount of food waste schools are producing and try to find a way to reconcile that problem.

“The food we are wasting in New York City public schools could help feed the less fortunate.”
One solution, Laura says, is to educate people about food waste because ''Most people throw out their lunch without thinking about it twice.'' Laura and her group have experience organizing causes in their schools, which inspired this approach to the problem. It's also a way for her to practice communicating.

The other inspiration came from the fact that many members of the food waste group have immigrant parents. After discussing what they have in common, they noticed that their cultures look down on wasting food. Many of their parents have taught them to look at the children who are not as fortunate and evaluate their own attitudes.

What Laura and her team hope to get from this project is a better understanding of food waste and starting a conversation about it with their classmates. They have been achieving these goals by conducting surveys with their peers at school. So far, they found it very interesting that some schools are addressing the problem by separating food into its own bin. Other schools, many of which are located in California, are converting their food waste into compost to solve the problem.

Laura said she considers it a great success to have improved their communications and research skills by learning about food waste and raising awareness amongst teenagers.