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Cutting waste gives school food for thought

Boarders instigate purge on mealtime leftovers at Highfield and Brookham. Initiative sees fare bound for the bin slashed by 20% since October.


A purge on food waste at an independent school in Liphook is already reaping environmental rewards.

The school has cut meal waste by a fifth since it began a pupil-initiated crackdown in October, reducing the amount of food thrown away by an incredible 1,260kg and lowering its carbon footprint in the process.

This represents a drop of more than 20% in fewer than four months and boards containing the relevant facts and figures of Highfield and Brookham’s food waste reduction drive are produced each week so that pupils can see for themselves the positive impact that their green initiative is having on the environment.

The drive began as pupils challenged the school’s catering department to produce a zero-waste meal per week, with excess food and ingredients repurposed for tasty and nutritious alternatives, including using pork from a lunchtime roast in a healthy evening stir fry, turning ripe bananas which were left over from our inter-school cross-country event in February into smoothies and banana bread, using the flesh of carved Hallowe’en pumpkins for soup and the seeds for homemade bread, and turning soup into pasta sauce.

The children are delighted to have provided the inspiration for the school’s environmental project, which covers its four mealtime sittings – boarders’ breakfast, pre-prep lunch, prep lunch and boarders’ supper – as well as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks and match day sports teas, with the food waste weighed and logged after each sitting.

Furthermore, the school’s dedicated chefs work from a menu-purchasing planner and boarding numbers are carefully monitored to allow the chefs to order and prepare the correct amount of food for each sitting. The school also has open culture of children coming back for seconds at mealtimes, but only after they’ve eaten what is on their plate in the first place, with children also encouraged to ask for a small or big portion in the first place.

Suzannah Cryer, Head of Highfield and Brookham School, said she was delighted by the early impact of the food waste project and praised the ingenuity of the boarding community in making the whole school aware of the need to cut down on food waste and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

“As a school, we take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously,” she said, “and this is another great example of how, if we all work together, we can really make a difference. Reducing our weekly food waste by a fifth is a great start but we still have a very long way to go and we won’t rest on our laurels.

“And I couldn’t be more proud of our boarders who got together to consider ways in which we could help our commitment to the environment further and try to lessen the impact of climate change. It really gives me great heart that with these caring children at the helm in years to come, the planet will be in very good hands.”

Highfield and Brookham has long been a champion of all things environmental and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

March 2024