Youth Education Program: kNOw Waste




What is kNOw Waste?

The concept of “food waste” is receiving growing attention from the media, but kids are largely being left out of the conversation. Food Forward seeks to change that through our kNOw Waste Education Program, which aims to educate young people about food waste and food insecurity and inspire them to create a lasting change.

kNOw Waste is an interdisciplinary, standards-aligned 5th grade curriculum that introduces students to the connections between reducing food waste, improving environmental outcomes, hunger as a social concern, and the importance of utilizing surplus to meet the needs of the food insecure.

Recent studies show more than 48 million Americans, including 15.3 million children, struggle with hunger. At the same time, 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten, amounting to 90 billion pounds or $165 billion a year in waste.


Over the course of six weeks, this six-lesson curriculum confronts questions such as:

What is food waste?
Why is food waste an important issue in the United States?
Is anything being done about this issue?
How does this affect me, and how can I make a difference?

Instruction of this program is provided by our trained educators and implemented during regular school hours. All lessons are standards-aligned and involve a multimedia and hands-on approach to teaching and learning, unconventional tastings, and additional opportunities to engage in the fight against food waste. The topics covered in each lesson align with a variety of subjects, including Science, Social Studies, Math, & English, allowing participation in our education program to be a convenient complement to teachers’ lesson plans.

kNOw Waste is designed in collaboration with an educator and curriculum developer with over 20 years experience in educational leadership and is offered to participating schools 100% free of charge.

Since 2016, kNOw Waste has partnered with 12 elementary schools, serving over 1,000 students throughout Los Angeles, and we’re excited to continue working with more schools in the 2018-2019 academic year.

We are currently taking applications from schools interested in bringing Food Forward’s kNOw Waste program to their 5th grade during the Spring of 2019. If you are a teacher or administrator interested in applying, please fill out our school interest form.

If you are interested in becoming a kNOw Waste Classroom Educator and would like more information about the position, email

Would you like more information?

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Here’s are testimonials about kNOw Waste directly from teachers and students who have participated:


“You helped me realize I waste a lot of food and inspired me to waste less.”

– Laura, 5th Grade Student at Grandview Elementary


“We waste the food without even knowing what we can do with it like donating it or making it to something tasty, appetizing, and delicious…We can be leaders in our communities by collecting unspoiled, healthy food and donating it to our neighbors in need. By donating food, we’re feeding people, not landfills, supporting local communities, and saving money.”

-Edgar, 5th Grade student at Glenfeliz Boulevard Elementary School


“Your tangible and practical lessons brought out the best in my students because they were having so much fun that they didn’t even realize they were learning the entire time…Most importantly, I watched their confidence levels increase as they became more empowered to take helpful action in their community.

-Mrs. Bacon, 5th Grade teacher at Santa Monica Boulevard Charter Community School


“I think food waste is extremely bad…but, I see a solution to this issue. For example, bruised/oddly shaped food and unopened food cans should be donated to charity, and expired foods can be turned into treats like pancakes made with sour milk. We can all help by making small changes, and soon those small changes will lead to big ones.

-Kayla, 5th Grade student at McKinley Avenue Elementary School


“Students are highly engaged throughout the program because they soon recognize that they, their family, and even their own school unnecessarily wastes food on a daily basis. As a result, students are compelled to become advocates of change, which is an exciting and inspiring thing to behold.”

-Rick Lee, 5th Grade Teacher at Toluca Lake Elementary


This program offers so much to students in the classroom. They learn about not wasting food, how to utilize food that is getting past prime, and how they can take part in preventing food waste. This program is on my list of must haves for the classroom.”

-Christina Haratian, 5th Grade Teacher at Van Gogh Elementary


“I can’t wait to get home to tell my mom what we can do to stop wasting so much food. It’s costing us a fortune!”

-Tyler, 5th Grade Student at Toluca Lake Elementary


Maybe we can talk to our principal and the cafeteria about not wasting so much food. Maybe we can give leftovers to the homeless.”

-Eduardo, 5th Grade Student at Toluca Lake Elementary