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Biting off more than we can chew

Updated: 2016-06-16 07:50
By Xu Wei (China Daily)

Students top of the class for wastage

Every year, 7,800 metric tons of food is wasted by school students in Beijing, according to recent research.

The study, conducted in four primary and four middle schools by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that the students wasted an average 129.5 grams of food per person per meal, which is far above the average in other cities.

"What was even more stunning was that the students did not even think they were wasting the food. They believe that they should simply throw it away when they don't like it," said Cheng Shengkui, a professor with the institute who led the research.

Cheng said the wastage was most severe when students were provided with packed lunches from school feeding programs.

"I have seen lunch boxes being thrown away without even being opened. After all, they have enough pocket money from their parents that allows them to go to fast food restaurants instead," he said.

The research also discovered that parents were often unaware of their children's attitudes to food wastage. "They also believe it is quite normal for their children to waste some food," he said.

The students also expressed very low levels of satisfaction with the lunches provided in school feeding programs, which partly accounted for the wastage.

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that 71 percent of the students had little or no knowledge of the sources of their food.

"Many students just said the food came from supermarkets. They had no idea of how painstakingly the grains were planted, harvested and transported before being processed into food," Cheng said, adding that wastage on campus could be significantly reduced if students were given more options.

"Some students have very small appetites, but they were still given the same rations as other children. That really left them with no choice," he said.

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