Talking Rubbish Blog

Obviously eating their packed lunch is no competition for playing with friends or sharing a friend’s valued pack of crisps. And that is just the food that makes it home. Teachers will say a pile of the same food is discarded into bins at school after lunchtime.

What are we doing wrong?

Why is this part of the $5.2 billion worth of food Australians waste each year? (See

Before the box is even opened, we need to know there is enough ‘mandatory’ sit down to eat time. Many schools have a set time for eating, followed by play time. Or, as Patrick at Wastewise Schools suggests, play first then eat. Either way, a reasonable time for eating sounds good.

Now, what is being discarded?

Sandwiches, whole or half eaten fruit, half finished yoghurt, half finished drinks etc.   Perhaps cutting fruit and sandwiches into bite sized pieces may be an option for speed eating busy children or just giving them less lunch box options.

Do you have any clever ideas for desperate parents?

How do we find a balance between providing children with a nutritious lunch and also minimising wastage?

24 Jun 2011 2:12 PM  /   / balance, box, food, less, lunch, time, uneaten, waste, wastewise  /  4 comments


Hey, that post leaves me feelng foolish. Kudos to you!

Julia Skinner

I have started giving my daughter a little container of dried fruit as an extra, if she is hungry she eats it and I top it up otherwise it goes back in her lunch box the next day. Her response is almost always she ran out of time to eat. Julia

Sue Abbott

What about letting kids eat during class. Last year, my daughter's school was part of the Crunch&Sip® program where students are able to bring a piece of fruit or vegetables to eat in the classroom each day along with their water bottle. Not sure why it stopped but if students were allowed to eat fruit or vegetables in class in the morning or afternoon it may help to 're-fuel' during the 'gap' between breakfast and morning tea or lunch and afternoon tea. At these 'gap' times children's attention may start to wane in class. Crunch&Sip® break also gives children the opportunity to eat the piece of fruit that might otherwise be left in their lunchbox and not be eaten at all. Check out for more information.

Barbara Alcock

Regarding school lunches, when I was teaching I encouraged the children to take their uneaten lunches home so parents could learn to send less food. At my school, the children only had to wait until 12.10 before going to play; by the time they'd got to the undercover area, there was hardly time to sit down let alone eat a sandwich. schools could allocate more time for eating. schools could also dispense with food bins so the children have to take uneaten food home. that would get the parents to check the bags more often. maybe they'd find a newsletter or an invitation ...