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Quick tips to reduce food waste

How to help reduce food waste in your school

Reducing waste helps to save money for schools, as well as being beneficial for the planet.

An estimated over 80,000 tonnes of food is wasted by schools in England per academic year. Of that, it’s estimated that 63,000 tonnes could have been avoided, that is a scary amount! In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, that equates to 253,000 tonnes per year.

Here’s our top tips for effective food management:


Awareness of the impact food waste is having on the environment and your school itself is improving. Children are beginning to understand the importance of reducing waste and considering this when it comes to lunchtime.

Top tip: show your pupils how much waste your school is producing on an average week by undertaking a waste audit. Not only can this raise awareness, but it can also help you identify areas that need tackling first, which may not always be linked to food waste.

Food choices

This can be quite a challenge when catering for a large number of pupils with varying preferences. Top tip: monitor what your pupils are eating. This will help you to provide menu choices that you know they prefer, and therefore less likely to leave on their plate.

David Leake at Didcot Girls’ school has cut food waste by up to 75% over two years using this method, he keeps a close eye on what sells and what doesn't, to make sure he is serving food the children want, such as cottage pie and uses the previous week's sales as a guide to how much to order. (The Guardian).

Meal ordering

A lot of food waste comes as a result of a kitchen having to cater for an unknown number of pupils, who all have different food preferences. As a result, enough food must be prepared for everyone who could possibly require a school meal, this leads to over-catering, and therefore, lots of waste.

Top tip: allow pre-ordering of meals. That way, you can ensure the kitchen knows exactly how much food is needed and the preferences of the children who are having a school dinner.

Our SCOPAY app combined with the Dinner Money module allows parents to pre-order and pay for their children’s lunches directly from their mobile. Schools can upload menus and images for parents to choose from. With our Classroom Edition, pupils to make their meal choice on the day.