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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Eating Healthy and Minimizing Food Waste in Practical Ways

boy picking up a salad

Courtesy of Hope Academy

How a Minneapolis School Navigates Food Waste and Nutrition for Over 500 Students

It is estimated that 119 billion pounds of food goes wasted each year in the United States. That is more than $408 billion in food wasted. In other words, that is 130 billion meals that are thrown away. Close to 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes to waste. It is said that all the food that is wasted in the U.S. could feed every unnourished person in the world. These statistics are surprising considering the rising prices of food and cost of living.

With grocery prices on the rise, food and money are still being rapidly wasted. A Minneapolis school has found tangible ways within our community to prevent food waste and is sharing the logical and systematic steps we can all take to do the same.

How Hope Academy Minimizes Food Waste

A small, private Christian school in Minneapolis, Hope Academy is taking practical steps to minimize food waste in their school lunches. Feeding over 500 students with little waste is a challenging task. The school stands on Christian principles and cares about food waste.

There are two feasible techniques that Hope Academy has taken on to eliminate waste. The first is composting. “We started organics composting with Hennepin County in 2019 in the cafeterias and have expanded organics composting with Hennepin County throughout the school building since 2021,” shares School Nutrition Director Janette Takata. In this way of tackling the issue of food waste, Hope Academy not only minimizes waste, but reuses what would normally be discarded into a sustainable way to give back to the environment. Partnering with the community, they repurpose what would normally go to landfill.

Serving fresh fruits and vegetables to their many students every day, specifically perishable foods, there are leftovers, and they quickly rot if not handled properly. One way that Hope is creatively solving this issue is to make smoothies. With each day-old fruit and vegetable, the kitchen staff makes smoothies for the high school students at no additional cost—a smart way to nourish with more fruits and vegetables while simultaneously saving food that would otherwise be wasted.

Simple Tips to Minimize Everyday Food Waste

Here are some practical next steps everyone can take to preserve the food they purchase:

The first is to keep an up-to-date inventory of what is in the fridge. This prevents any sort of excess food that would typically go to waste. Buy what will be eaten and not wasted. We are less likely to waste food when purchased in smaller quantities more frequently rather than in large quantities that will perish. However, if one accidentally buys too much perishable food or is not able to eat as much as expected, there is always the option to freeze the leftovers. 

Freezing food is an excellent way to extend its life. Keep an eye on the food and freeze it before it reaches the end of its life. Then, when ready to eat, simply defrost. When defrosting your food, be creative. Consider using leftover or frozen food in creative ways for meals that may not otherwise be made. 

Additionally, when shopping for food, do not hesitate to buy the “ugly” fruits or vegetables. These foods often go to waste simply due to the cosmetic appearance, when otherwise they are the same as the other foods. Lastly, if all else fails and there is food that is bound for the trash, do not forget that composting is a terrific way to eliminate waste and contribute to a healthy environment.

Location: 2300 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis. Schedule a tour at For more information, call the Admissions Team at 612-489-5154 and/or visit

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