A wonderful journey with the Farm2School event!

The Farm2School is one of the premier programs of Outside2Inside in reducing food waste. In this program, a low cost Wonky Produce Farmer’s Market is setup at local low income schools by recovering the “cosmetically-challenged” fruit & veggies—food that is perfectly good, but not aesthetically suitable for retail. The school students are involved & equipped with knowledge about food waste, thereby enabling them to be advocates of food waste reduction and to run the farmer’s market. The goal of this program is to recover wonky produce and to create awareness about food waste among the local community.

On July 2018, the Farm2School program won the grant award from Intel Corporation for conducting one such event by the end of 2018. That was a significant achievement in itself but we cannot just stop there. We had to do an amazing event to justify the award. We didn’t even had the school available at the time of award. But at the time of writing this post, we have successfully completed the 2nd Farm2school event and it was a great success.

How did we do it?

After we got the funding from Intel Corporation, the first task was to reach out to local schools in Santa Clara County. We went about the task by visiting the schools in bay area and pitching about the program to them. The Ponderosa Elementary School in Sunnyvale bought into the idea and agreed to participate in the program. The Ponderosa Elementary School is a public school and is part of the Santa Clara Unified School District. The school has ~570 students with ~30% of the students & families in a low income environment.

We finalized to do the Farm2School event on Dec 19, 2018 between 1.15pm – 3.15pm. But to pull this off successfully, there were 2 months of preparation work and 4 other major sessions we had to do before the event. Once date was finalized, we advertised the event through flyers, social media posts, and email notification within the school community, family and friends. Then we started with the 4 major sessions.

Farm2School Information Session

A few weeks before the event on Nov 30, 2018, we went to the Ponderosa Elementary school and did an Information Session for the students. This session was to introduce the concept of Food Waste, Wonky Produce and to encourage the students to volunteer for the Farm2School – Wonky Produce Farmer’s Market event. This is the program’s first step in enabling the students to be advocates of food waste awareness. So we need to make the best impression on the kids. We made it very kids friendly with some games, trivia questions about food waste and some sample wonky produce for each of the kids to take home. The Students were very excited to know about wonky produce and many of them signed up to volunteer for the event.

Outside2Inside – Farm2School Information Session with the Ponderosa School Students

Farm2School Student Volunteer Training Session

We worked with the school to get the final list of student volunteers and arranged for a training session with them.  There were totally 15 students who signed up as volunteers. We had roles & responsibilities defined for the student volunteers to run the farmer’s market. There were roles like Greeter, Food Waste Stats Guide, Stamper, Finger Counter, Survey Guide etc. But the Stamper and Finger Counter were the favorite among the kids.  We explained the roles and identified the students for each role. All the student volunteers were also given an Outside2Inside T-shirt.

Farm2School Adult Volunteer Identification & Orientation

Any parent would agree that managing 15 inquisitive kids is itself a difficult task. And running an event with the kids is impossible without adult supervision and guidance. This is where the volunteers from Intel helped us make it smooth and seamless. There was great interest among the Intel folks about this volunteer event and we got 13 volunteers signing up for this event. We had a volunteer orientation session with Intel volunteers and explained the roles & responsibilities required for the event.  The roles were classified into 3 categories Pre Event Setup, Farmer’s market event, Post event cleanup. The main responsibility for most of them was to manage and guide the kids 🙂

Farm2School – Wonky Produce Sorting & Recovery Event

The Wonky produce are fruits and veggies that are odd shaped, irregular sized, having minor scars or discolored due to heat but perfectly good & nutritious as any other produce we buy in the market. Just because they are wonky, there is no demand and farms end up trashing them. Outside2Inside has partnered with many local farms and produce warehouses to recover such wonky produce from them. In this event, we went to a produce warehouse in San Francisco and recovered ~300lbs of produce on Dec 17, 2018.

Wonky Persimmon – If not for us, this would have been in trash just because it is odd shaped!

Outside2Inside & Intel Volunteers recovering Wonky Produce.

Farm2School – Wonky Produce Farmer’s Market Event

With the help of Schools, farms and volunteers we were prepared for the event on Dec 19. 2018. But there was some anxiety before the event. The volunteers came by 12noon to the Outside2Inside office and after a short briefing we all got into the action. We started packing the wonky produce and other things like canopy, produce baskets, banners etc into the car and reached the school by 12.30pm. The volunteers were super enthusiastic and had the Wonky Produce Farmer’s market being setup within 30mins by 1pm.  The adult volunteers took responsibility of the kids they manage and formed a great partnership. At 1.15pm, we opened the Wonky Produce Farmer’s market to the people and the crowd kept pouring in making the event a great success.

Through this Farm2School – Wonky Produce Farmers Market, we achieved the following:

  • Recovered ~600lbs of wonky produce from getting wasted.
  • Indirectly, this helped prevent ~225lbs of Green House Gas emissions and saved ~47K gallons of water from being wasted.
  • Donated the produce to ~150 students and their families.
  • Raised awareness about reducing food waste to ~600 people.
  • Engaged 15 students as volunteers in bringing awareness about food waste. The student volunteers learnt food waste reduction advocacy, leadership skills, artful communication & public presentation skills and community engagement.
  • From our feedback survey, 100% of the participants liked the fruits and veggies provided in the Farm2School program and would like to visit such future events from Outside2Inside.

Farm2School – Wonky Produce Farmer’s Market with volunteers from Outside2Inside, Intel and Ponderosa School

These amazing achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of our partners, donors and importantly the volunteers. We thank Ponderosa School for participating in the event, Intel Corporation for funding this event and the volunteers who gave their valuable time in making this event a big success. We wish to have more such partnerships with Intel and Ponderosa School in future.

– Sriram Natarajan, Director of Food Recovery, O2I.

 

 

 

 


Why Farm2School program is important in the food recovery?

Mоѕt food recovery рrоgrаmѕ whоѕе mission іѕ tо redistribute excess рrоduсе tо thоѕе whо need іt report rесоvеrіng lеѕѕ than hаlf of thе excess produce іn thеіr аrеаѕ. Yеt, the fresh produce fооd bаnkѕ rесеіvе from thеѕе rеdіѕtrіbutіоn рrоgrаmѕ іѕ crucial, аnd іnсrеаѕіnglу ѕо. Fееdіng Amеrіса reports that many реорlе nоw dереnd оn fооd bаnkѕ not just for еmеrgеnсіеѕ, but fоr thеіr dаіlу calories. In оrdеr fоr fаrm-tо-fооdbаnk рrоgrаmѕ tо ѕuссееd оn a wider ѕсаlе, mоrе infrastructure аnd fundіng іѕ needed fоr shipping tоtеѕ, trucks, соld storage, etc. Mеаnwhіlе, perfectly gооd рrоduсе is left tо rоt.

Anоthеr wау food іѕ wаѕtеd is thrоugh сullіng, оr thе rеmоvаl оf рrоduсе bаѕеd on соѕmеtіс blеmіѕhеѕ. Thіѕ means thаt produce thаt is too ѕmаll, оddlу ѕhареd, оff соlоr, or hаѕ tоо mаnу blеmіѕhеѕ is thrоwn оut. Culling often hарреnѕ on еіthеr thе fаrm or аt grосеrу stores; аnd whіlе both take ѕtерѕ tо rеduсе wаѕtе, a lоt of fооd іѕ still wаѕtеd.

Onе ѕоlutіоn tо reducing food wаѕtе comes frоm rеtаіlеrѕ lіkе Whоlе Foods bеіng willing tо trу ѕеllіng lеѕѕ-thаn-реrfесt рrоduсе. Whоlе Fооdѕ recently аgrееd to wоrk wіth Imреrfесt Produce оn a pilot рrоgrаm tо test ѕаlеѕ оf wonky рrоduсе in its Nоrthеrn California ѕtоrеѕ. Alrеаdу, Whole Fооdѕ рurсhаѕеѕ wonky рrоduсе for uѕе іn its рrераrеd fооdѕ, ѕmооthіеѕ, and juісеѕ. Thе ѕuссеѕѕ of putting wonky produce оn the ѕhеlvеѕ rеmаіnѕ tо bе seen, but a Whоlе Fооdѕ spokesperson has ѕаіd that thе ѕtоrе іѕ соmmіttеd tо moving tоwаrd zеrо wаѕtе аnd ѕееѕ thіѕ раrtnеrѕhір wіth Imреrfесt аѕ a mеаnѕ tо dо thаt.

Kids and раrеntѕ аlѕо have tо bе еduсаtеd thаt food wаѕtе recovery іѕ a соmmunіtу rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу. Thіѕ іѕ аlѕо something thаt is еnсоurаgеd by thе farm2school рrоgrаm, to hеlр раrеntѕ and kіdѕ know how food waste is a рrоblеm thаt affects thе community thеу live іn. Thе program іѕ аlѕо аn орроrtunіtу to buіld соmmunіtу engagement that will benefits раrеntѕ, kіdѕ, ѕсhооl аdmіnіѕtrаtоrѕ, tеасhеrѕ, аnd fаrmеrѕ. Fооd wаѕtе hаrmѕ thе соmmunіtу аnd еvеrуоnе іn it. It is thе responsibility оf school аdmіnіѕtrаtоrѕ, раrеntѕ, аnd оthеr соmmunіtу lеаdеrѕ to find ways to hеlр еduсаtе еvеrуоnе on why they should nоt wаѕtе food. Thе fаrm2ѕсhооl рrоgrаmѕ саn hеlр brіng thе соmmunіtу tоgеthеr аnd асhіеvе grеаt things.

Fаrm2Sсhооl helps connect lосаl fаrmеrѕ with area ѕсhооlѕ so that fresh, lосаllу grоwn fооdѕ саn be served аt ѕсhооl mеаlѕ. In addition, Fаrm2Sсhооl еnсоurаgеѕ сhіldrеn tо trу new fооdѕ & рrоvіdеѕ opportunities for hаndѕ-оn nutrіtіоn еduсаtіоn bоth in thе cafeteria аnd іn ѕсhооl gаrdеnѕ.

Farm2School helps children undеrѕtаnd whеrе their fооd comes frоm аnd how thеіr fооd сhоісеѕ іmрасt thеіr bodies, thе еnvіrоnmеnt аnd thеіr community. When kіdѕ lеаrn first-hand that fruіtѕ аnd vеgеtаblеѕ can be delicious in аddіtіоn tо being gооd fоr thеm, thаt knowledge wіll mаkе іt mоrе likely thаt they mаkе ѕmаrt fооd choices their whole lіvеѕ.

In fасt, ѕоmе ѕіmрlе but ѕmаrt strategies tо Reduce, Recover, аnd Recycle foods can make a bіg difference tо address wаѕtе іn ѕсhооlѕ. Chаngіng рrасtісеѕ іn ѕсhооlѕ has thе dоublе bеnеfіt оf reducing thе аmоunt of wasted fооd whіlе also educating ѕtudеntѕ аbоut thе need to rеduсе fооd wаѕtе and thе wауѕ thіѕ саn bе dоnе. Catching ѕtudеntѕ while they are уоung саn hеlр lead to the tуре оf ѕосіеtаl сhаngе needed tо сut back оn fооd wаѕtе.

The соnѕеԛuеnсеѕ оf fооd wаѕtе and thе ways іn which food wаѕtе саn be аvоіdеd аrе ѕlоwlу bесоmіng better understood аnd mоrе widely discussed. Lеt’ѕ kеер food waste on оur ѕtаtе’ѕ аgеndа, and we’ll find mоrе ways tо waste lеѕѕ gооd fооd and help thе Earth tоо.


How can we educate school kids and parents about Food Waste Recovery through the Farm2School program?

Food waste affects the society and the family. Reports show that an average family waste about $1,500 worth of food every year, money that could be resting in your account to do so many nice things. One of the best ways to prevent food wastage is through the farm2school program, which is a program set up for schools to purchase food from farms and consume directly. Farm to school program is effective because it is based on the principles of education, procurement, and setting up school gardens. So, how can it be used to teach parents and kids about food waste recovery?

Food Contains Nutrients That Support Growth

Food contains the essential nutrients that we need to grow strong, healthy, and happy. Every nation, state, and regions have their own food security challenges, and it is very important to make kids and parents realize why waste has to be discouraged. Educating kids about all nutritional value derived from farm produce will make them better appreciate them. Unlike packaged food, kids will have a firsthand experience with fruits, vegetables, and other items brought in by the farming community.

Kids Take Part in Farming or Gardening

The highlight of most farm2school programs is the part where children are taken to the farm to learn about how food is planted, nurtured, and harvested. Educating them about the long process will surely make the kids appreciate the value of food and make up their mind to waste less. Parents may also participate in this program, so they can have the experience with the kids and inculcate it into their values at home. By showing the kids the lengthy process it takes to make food, they will grow into adults with a responsibility to always try and prevent wastage.

Promoting Healthy Eating Education

The farm2school program also involve classroom education that teaches kids about sustainable agriculture, growing cycle, ability to recognize seasonality and local produce etc. The classroom sessions is an amazing opportunity to make the kids understand why they need to avoid food wastage. This can be done by telling them the negative effects food wastage is having on our world and future consequences if we don’t take action now. The classroom is also an opportunity to teach kids about healthy eating, which is the primary purpose of feeding in the first place.

Community Responsibility

Kids and parents also have to be educated that food waste recovery is a community responsibility. This is also something that is encouraged by the farm2school program, to help parents and kids know how food waste is a problem that affects the community they live in. The program is also an opportunity to build community engagement that will benefits parents, kids, school administrators, teachers, and farmers.

Food waste harms the community and everyone in it. It is the responsibility of school administrators, parents, and other community leaders to find ways to help educate everyone on why they should not waste food. The farm2school programs can help bring the community together and achieve great things.


Why food recovery awareness is important for kids?

Food recovery awareness

Food recovery is the practice of preventing surplus foodstuffs from being dumped in the trash. It provides a variety of social, economic, and environmental benefits.  The highest and best type of food recovery involves collecting wholesome but unused or unsalable food for distribution to those in need.  Additional food recovery efforts aim to reduce waste further and decrease resource burden by converting excess food for use in animal feed, composting, and biofuel production.  Engaging in food recovery is a straightforward and uplifting way to respond to a variety of challenging problems.

Food recovery is the opposite of food wastage. Food waste has many economic and environmental impacts. With many people experiencing food insecurity, this waste can be reduced when surplus food is donated to those in need rather than thrown to rot in landfills. There are many ways to help this problem, and it’s a matter of effort and learning to fix it.

‘Wonky’ Produce:

More than 20% of the fruits and vegetables grown in America never make it off the farm because they aren’t perfect enough or ‘wonky’ for grocery store standards. This results in billions of pounds of wasted produce every year. However, these produce are just as nutritious and delicious but looks a little different. With so many delicious fruits and vegetables going to waste, something had to be done. By eating the so-called ‘wonky’ foods, you’re helping build a more sustainable and effective food system. You’re helping fight food waste. You’re ensuring farmers are rewarded for their full harvest with a less wasted land, fossil fuels, and water. You’re improving access to healthy food. You’re creating fulfilling careers for employees. With every bite into a misshapen apple or crooked carrot, you’re helping shape our world for the better.

Conventional ways of food recovery:

There are many ways of recovering food. The four conventional methods of recovering food include the following:

  • Field Gleaning: The collection of crops from farmers’ fields that have already been mechanically harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.
  • Perishable Food Rescue or Salvage: The collection of perishable produce from wholesale and retail sources.
  • Food Rescue: The selection of prepared foods from the food service industry.
  • Nonperishable Food Collection: The collection of processed foods with long shelf lives.

Why we should educate our kids on food recovery?

Apart from disposing foods which are regarded as ‘wonky’ from farms, it is, however, important to let your kids be aware of the consequences of wasting food and the advantages of preventing food wastage. Our kids tend to waste food when they notice food surplus in the house or perhaps when they are being overfed. Strict decisions should make to restrict our kids from wasting foods. Now, we’re not saying to let your kids go hungry. But let’s face it, sometimes they want things from the supermarket or at a food establishment that they don’t need but just want to eat. Kids may have a hard time understanding what it takes to earn and pay for food, which can result in taking it for granted. Setting up rules where kids need to use their allowance or job earnings to pay for meals can help them realize the cost of wasting something so essential. There are several people on the streets of big towns and cities who don’t have the opportunity to obtain three square meals. Donating the food remnants or leftovers to these poor people will be highly appreciable. Particularly in the situation where kids come from a less privileged home where the parents earn little, it is, however, essential to caution the way in which they waste food.

If they are too young to serve themselves, serve young children small portions of food at meal and snack time. They have little tummies, and if you heap too much onto their plates, some of it is likely to go to waste.

Allow older children to serve themselves. Encourage them to take small portions then go back for more if they’re still hungry. Kids will learn how to gauge their appetites and are less likely to have plate waste because they decided themselves how much to serve up.

If your child declares they are full before finishing a reasonable amount of their meal, save the leftovers. “Instead of having them snack on something less than wholesome an hour or two later, they can finish their meal, reducing waste and increasing the likelihood of a well-rounded diet.

Rather than encouraging disposing foods in trash cans, you could pick up a responsibility of distributing the excess foods to the less privileged and help the needy.