“Food for Thought” Wasted Food Undergraduate Course


We designed a course centered around convergence research for students to understand and address the complex problem of wasted food through diverse perspectives and a focus on food justice and activism. 

Students will be exposed to a scope of up-to-date research from sociocultural, health, technological, environmental, economic, political, and justice-oriented lenses. 

Students also have the opportunity to explore and propose solutions to reduce wasted food and create a more resilient food system.  

Course DesiGN

The course was designed to be inquiry-based, student-centered, and representative of convergence research in action in RECIPES.  

Course Learning Outcomes 

  • Describe where and how food is wasted 
  • Explain how different aspects of the food system impact or are impacted by wasted food 
  • Examine how different communities experience and are impacted by wasted food 
  • Propose solutions to reduce wasted food to create a resilient food system 

The course is broken up into three segments: introduction to wasted food and why it’s a problem, digging deeper into different perspectives on the food system and wasted food, and individual or small-group research on an aspect of wasted food relevant to the local community.  

Resources implemented in the course came from RECIPES network partners, organizations, and members. We thank everyone for their contributions and look forward to the future of this course!  

Diverse perspectives and questions explored: 

Society, Culture, & Human Health

How do trends, lifestyle, education, cultural differences, and demographics affect people’s perceptions of, and behaviors related to wasted food? 

What are the health implications of wasted food and food insecurity?  

Agriculture & Environment

How does wasted food impact the physical and biological environment (land, water, air)? 

How does wasted food impact issues related to climate change, sustainability, and use of natural resources? 

Policy & Activism

How do local and global policies and laws about food production, storage, sales, and consumption impact wasted food?

How has (or could) the food justice movement respond to structural inequalities that cause social inequities in the food system?


What is the economic impact of wasted food?

How do capitalism and consumerism affect wasted food?

Technology & Engineered Solutions:  

What science and engineering discoveries and innovations and technological advances can help us to better understand or address the problem of wasted food? 

What systems and machines can be used in the food supply chain to reduce wasted food? 

How Can I Get Involved?

If you are interested in submitting content or bringing this course to your university, please reach out to Hannah Jardine, Matt Hartings, or Rachel Weiss.  

Use the following link to submit media: http://bit.ly/RECIPEScoursecontent  

Currently the course is being piloted at select network universities. Check back here for content availability and course updates!