Briarwood Second-Graders Lead School in Zero Food Waste Challenge

Briarwood Zero Food Waste Challenge
Shawnee Mission School District

The Briarwood Bulldogs challenge students everywhere to reduce food waste and help the planet. They call it their “Zero Food Waste Challenge.”

With help from the US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools, a group of second-graders at Briarwood created an awareness campaign to help make their school more sustainable. They also created a Public Service Announcement, sharing tips for composting and recycling to help any student in the Shawnee Mission School District join the challenge. Click here to see the video.

Second-graders in Susan Cunningham’s class called their project the “Zero Food Waste Challenge.” They researched food waste, ways to prevent food waste, and created a research plan to track how much food waste is collected at their school. As they were collecting data, the second-graders shared a presentation in each classroom to teach students in their school how they could help reduce food waste.

“We learned that we can help solve this problem at school everyday and so can you,” second-grader Larren Boomer said.

By the end of their one-week Zero Food Waste challenge, all Briarwood students had prevented 62.8 fewer pounds of food waste and 89 fewer pounds of waste from going to the landfill by improving composting and recycling.

The challenge has had lasting effects on the school community, Cunningham said.

“Sixth-graders continue to promote zero food waste each morning during school announcements,” Cunningham said. “In addition, students throughout the school are more diligent about not wasting food and about recycling. The challenge brought us all together to achieve a goal.”

Briarwood is serving as a pilot school for a Schools as Teaching Schools program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools. Last year, second-graders in Cunningham’s class worked on a similar project-based learning project to help raise awareness and help address the problem of clean water access worldwide.

“Sometimes teachers make up problems to solve, but already we have so many we can work together on solving,” Cunningham said.





Students stand behind recycle bins and composting buckets.
Briarwood Recyclers
A group of Zero Food Waste Challenge students.