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Downham Market school waste project hailed

Leaders of a West Norfolk school say a range of measures has enabled it to slash the amount of food it throws away.

Staff and pupils at the Hillcrest Primary School say they have cut waste levels by 17 per cent, more than a tonne, since the campaign began in February.

Now council leaders hope their success will inspire other schools in the area to follow suit.

Hillcrest Primary School pupils promoting waste reduction (2339008)
Hillcrest Primary School pupils promoting waste reduction (2339008)

The school worked with Norfolk County Council officials to audit food waste and develop an action plan for how to reduce it.

Teacher Nikki Wardle said: “We were amazed to discover that the school threw away 161kg of food a week - that’s the equivalent of over six tonnes a year.

“We came up with a joint plan to donate usable food to the new Community Fridge, and to give other leftover food to Church Farm for rare breeds.

“The children also took home a food diary to help their parents to provide more appropriate packed lunch portion sizes, and we worked with school kitchen staff to start filling three new compost bins for all unusable vegetable and fruit food waste.”

Other measures included extending the school’s lunch break for early years pupils to give them more time to eat.

Headteacher Matthew Fry said: “The project was a great success. We have all learned a valuable lesson in reducing our food waste, and recycling our leftovers.”

Ian Devereux, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “The staff and pupils at Hillcrest School are to be congratulated on this wonderful project. A 17 per cent reduction in food waste is very impressive over a relatively short period of time.

“It just goes to show that my making some simple changes, a small group can have considerable, positive impact. Imagine the scale of the impact if everyone changed their behaviour in this way.

“I hope that these pupils will share their experience with others to get more people thinking differently about food waste.”

Norfolk Waste Partnership chairman John Fisher added: “Hopefully, through the work of the teaching staff and the county council’s waste reduction team, the pupils at Hillcrest Primary School will have developed good habits of cutting out food waste that will last a lifetime - and will pass that knowledge on to their parents and grandparents.”

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