National Academy of Medicine

The Power of Postconsumer School Food Waste Audits

By Jimmy Nguyen
July 21, 2016 | Commentary

I am sure many of you do not want to hear the word “audit” now that tax season is over, but the type of audit I am going to write about can be fun and enlightening. A food waste audit can help any organization better understand how much food, which types of food, and why certain foods are being thrown away in their operation. Waste reduction strategies derived from this data can help organizations save money and increase customer satisfaction. It is almost like getting a nice big tax return and spending it on someone you care about.

One of the best places to conduct a post-consumer food waste audit is in K-12 schools. Audit organizers can involve student volunteers and incorporate the activities into the math and science curriculum. In addition, student volunteers and participants can learn about the societal and environmental impacts that food waste can have on their community and world. In a survey by John Hopkins University, only 24 percent of survey respondents said that they were very knowledgeable about reducing wasted food. If we are to sustain the food waste reduction movement and reach the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030, we have to motivate younger generations to take up this mission and help us change their peers’ perceptions about food waste.



Suggested Citation

Nguyen, J. 2016. The Power of Postconsumer School Food Waste Audits. NAM Perspectives. Commentary, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201607d


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.