Don’t Waste Lah! – Sodexo mentors Zhonghua Secondary students to develop a winning solution for food waste in the Environmental Challenge for Schools (ECS).

Environmental Challenge

From left to right: Mr. Roshith Rajan (Corporate Responsibility Lead – Asia Pacific, Sodexo), Marcus Wong Wen Hao, Muhammad Schzwandy B Bakhit, Than Hui Xin, Mr Laurent Hochet (Operations Director, Schools & Universities, Southeast Asia, Sodexo), Mr Ng Lian Wan (HOD Special Projects, Zhonghua Secondary School), Mdm Zhang Yan (Teacher, Zhonghua Secondary School).

The 11-member team gamely tackled the topic of food waste in schools, emerging as champions in the Open category of the ECS, organised by the National Environment Agency. The ECS is a national-level competition where schools partner organisations from any of the 3P (People, Public and Private) sectors, such as non-governmental organisations, grassroots organisations, companies and public agencies to co-create solutions to solve local environmental challenges.

The students devised a data-driven learning project, “Don’t Waste Lah!”, to increase awareness and change behaviour towards food wastage among students and food suppliers in schools. As their corporate partner, Sodexo mentored and shared its experience of managing food waste in schools with the team over a period of five months, offering insights on how they can approach this complex topic.

Mr. Aurélien Sonet, Asia Pacific Region Chair & Singapore Country President, Sodexo, said: "A lot of time, energy, fuel, water, passion, and money have gone into the making of the food, from the farm to the fork, which is being wasted at the consumer end. Through this partnership project, Sodexo is proud to inspire the student community to understand the value of food early on in their lives as ultimately what we don’t value, we waste."

The students creatively addressed the challenge of food waste in schools through the use of an education prototype targeted at the student community, consisting of surveys, food waste collection, assembly talks, games, stickers and tagline competitions.

Lee Pei Xuan, Student Team Leader, Zhonghua Secondary School, said: "We learnt the importance of reducing food waste and how our actions can affect the environment. Values such as determination and responsibility saw us through this project."

To test their prototype, in July 2016 they launched a campaign to 1,300 students in Zhonghua Secondary School. After the campaign, the students showed a positive attitude change. There was a reduction of 64% of students who wasted food at each meal. This is consistent with the food waste data collected, which reflected a 20% drop in the amount of food wasted in the school.

Mr. Laurent Hochet, Operations Director, Schools & Universities, Southeast Asia, Sodexo, said: "We are encouraged by the students’ drive to reduce food waste and are glad to share our industry knowledge with them. Through strong partnerships with schools, Sodexo is able to develop better solutions to address food waste, and ultimately contribute to improving the quality of life."

To create a holistic solution, the Zhonghua Secondary team also engaged the food suppliers in the canteen, another key stakeholder in the food chain, to effect the behavioural change.

Mrs. Wong Check Siew, Senior Teacher, Zhonghua Secondary School, said: "Throughout this journey, Mr Roshith Rajan (Corporate Responsibility Lead – Asia Pacific) from Sodexo inspires and deepens our students' knowledge on the issue of food waste by sharing the big picture from his industry practice, thereby widening their perspectives."

The team plans to share the results with other schools and members of the public, encouraging people to “don’t waste lah!” and contribute to a better tomorrow.

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