Tackling wasted food with littles

May 27, 2021 Updated: January 18, 2024

This month, we caught up with members of Team Lovin’ with children in their lives to ask: How do you tackle the issue of wasted food with kids? How do you speak to them about food insecurity?

Sean Ahern, Operations Director

Sean Ahern has a toddler, Dorothy, at home. While she may not be old enough to understand food insecurity yet, his family makes a valiant effort to reduce their wasted food footprint. Like most things in life though, Sean says, “It’s a work in progress.” Hear from Sean what’s been working for his family:

1. We try to eat the same thing as a family all at the same time. This way, it models that everyone is eating it. If Dorothy does not go for it, we can incorporate it onto one of our plates, so it isn’t wasted. 
2. We give most foods a second chance. If something does not work the first time, we store it in the fridge and give it at least one more shot the next day. Often it is a power struggle, where food is rejected one day and embraced the next. 
3. We utilize sauces (or dips, as Dorthy calls them). This way, she can dip her vegetables into, say, a salad dressing. This gives her a choice of eating but also increased flavor.
4. We try to give only one or two food items at a time. If something is not a hit, we clear it away and store it immediately in the fridge. If we leave a buffet of food out all at once, they get mixed, and it’s unlikely even the most dedicated food waste advocate would eat it.
5. When she gets a little older, we will definitely incorporate the Clean Plate Club as a goal to meet. Not sure what the success will be, but we have some ideas from online to increase engagement.

Joni Kusminsky, Marketing & Communications Director

Joni has a nine-year-old daughter that she and her husband involve in cooking with them. It’s a tool to help her better understand the issues.

“There’s something about making contact with food before it hits the plate, putting in that time and attention to making something delicious, that gives our food an almost sacred dimension,” says Joni. “We all seem to savor food, and look out for it, just a little more when we’ve had a hand in making a meal. We use that experience as a launchpad to talk about wasted food. ‘Let’s think about all the resources and hard work that went into just this one meal! Now how are we going to make the most of it?'” 

She adds, “Also, though, we don’t think it’s enough to simply teach our child to avoid waste. We want her to understand why we try not to. That means lending perspective from our own lives and stories and being open to having tough conversations about hunger, climate change, racism, you name it. We want to prepare her for the world she’s inheriting and the opportunity she has to make it better than she found it.”

Anthony Summa, Food Rescue Coordinator

Anthony and his wife have a one-year-old son, Luca, and another baby on the way. From picky young palettes to pregnancy cravings, reducing his family’s wasted food has added challenges. Anthony and his family stick to the following guide to reduce what they can:

1. Meal planning is key
2. Befriend the freezer
3. Prioritize portion size
4. Eat together

Read more about Anthony and his family’s tactics to reduce wasted food here.

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