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  • UK & Ireland PRME Regional Chapter

London and South East Network’s 'Love Student Leftovers' Project on Food Waste

In the run up to the UK and Ireland PRME Chapter 10th Anniversary Conference and Doctoral Colloquium, our 7 local networks have been commemorating 10 years of responsible management education by running showcase events and student competitions on the theme of Food. Join us here on the UKI PRME 10th Anniversary Blog with coverage from our network coordinators on their local celebrations.

On the 22nd February 2023, the London and South East network celebrated our 10th-anniversary by hosting a three-part project on food waste, themed around food and regional identity. The project, which focused on Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 12, was hosted by Oxford Brookes University and included a student cooking competition, a panel discussion of community sustainable food system project partners, and a research presentation on hospitality businesses’ approaches to food waste and food rescue.

Attendees at the ‘Campus Cook Off Challenge’

Student Competition

The student cooking competition 'Love Student Leftovers,' was run by students for students. The competition was open to individuals from any university in London and the South East, providing it extensive reach in raising awareness about PRME's work and understanding of what commonly wasted foods are, and how leftovers can be creatively repurposed.

The support of the Oxford Brookes Business School university sustainability team was integral to the success of the initiative. They initiated suggestions of local community food organisations to support the competition. Local partners were invited to take part in the following ‘sustain

able and fair trade’ event and panel discussion. The project also enabled across-faculty collaboration between Oxford Brookes Business School, and the Centre for Nutrition and Health, with a team of students brought together from undergraduate and postgraduate courses in both faculties.

An undergraduate Business and Management student, Georgina Turnbull, emerged as a project lead as she was able to effectively initiate the launch of an Instagram site. She describes the process as “daunting but exhilarating… I particularly enjoyed the research factor and the creative design of the Instagram posts and posters.”

The nutrition students, played a key role in designing information on aspects such as food safety, exemplary entry materials and development of judging criteria. BA (Hons) Nutrition student, Siana Dimatrova was motivated to get involved to “help other students learn how to use leftovers and create something delicious instead of throwing food away” and that through the competition she “gathered inspiration on how to use leftover food to create something new.

One of the interesting aspects of the judging process, was the number of entries of global food dishes. One of the winners explained he got involved was because “it is the first time I have seen something like this, I have lived in Peru (where I´m native) and also in Spain, and I can say that I´ve never seen specific care about food waste”.

There were three categories of winners (vegan, sweet, and savoury), each of whom received a prize of £100. The winners were:

  • Savoury Category: David Sanchez Romero - Oxford Brookes University – Full Peruvian meal

  • Sweet Category: Szonja Szigeti - University of Surrey – Hungarian rice pudding

  • Vegan Category: Hoi Yan Ngan - Middlesex University – Fresh coconut bubbles pudding

On-campus Cook-Off Challenge and Hybrid Panel Discussion event with community food partners

Local food partners attend the on-campus ‘Cook-Off’

The community food partner judges visited the campus for a live cook-off challenge which showcased how commonly wasted and leftover food could be used creatively. The challenge took place in a central university space as part of a ‘fair trade and sustainable food event’ to launch 'Fair Trade Fortnight.' The university sustainability team played a significant role in facilitating this event, ensuring that health and safety processes were agreed upon and engaging the university catering team.

The cook-off was followed by a hybrid panel discussion event, which featured the community food partner judges and Greggs, who were on campus for the day. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of reducing food waste and emphasized the role of community groups and initiatives such as food larders in enabling vulnerable people's access to healthy food. The line-up covered all aspects of the food system from community cooking advice through to food redistribution and surplus food cafes (including carbon calculation of meals), food poverty through community provision and larders, in addition to a policy perspective from Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. A positive outcome to arise from the discussion was the further engagement between the university and community partners on both research and projects.

Presenters and Attendees at ‘Food Rescue’ Panel

During the project development phase, a conversation with the sustainability consultancy Shared Planet led to a collaboration in which they surveyed Oxford hospitality business approaches to food waste and food rescue solutions. Presentation of the survey findings fed into the panel discussion. The business-based opportunities and challenges identified in the research, provided an ideal context for provocative discussion by the panel on individual, business, community organisations and local/national/international policy-makers. The research caught media attention following an Oxford Brookes press release, with interviews on BBC Radio Oxford and Thames Valley Heart FM and WRAP (climate action NGO working on waste) are in ongoing contact with Shared Planet, appreciative of ‘on the ground’ business insights which align with WRAP’s ‘Guardians of Grub’ initiative which focuses on the hospitality and food services industry

Thank you to all the Food expert panel members that joined us on the day: Fiona Steel Manager and Jess Copp Network and Communications Lead at Good Food Oxfordshire, Spencer Lawes Outreach Coordinator at Oxford Food Hub, Joanne Milton Project Coordinator at Replenish Oxfordshire, Sandra Ruge Director at Waste2Taste, Dr Emily Connally Managing Director and Founder at Cherwell Collective, Rachel Townsend Waste Strategy Project Officer at Oxfordshire County Council, Rachel Naden Waste and Resource Reduction Officer at ODS/Oxford City Council and Paul Irwin-Rhodes Head of Sustainability at Greggs.

Conclusion and outcomes:

Love Student Leftovers was a challenging but rewarding project that required an ongoing commitment over several months. It showcased how universities can raise awareness about reducing food waste while promoting creative and sustainable cooking. The lasting legacy of the project as a resource on the university sustainability engagement pages, and enduring interest and commitment by faculty and sustainability team members, means that this is just a starting point.

Stay tuned for more content on the UKI PRME 10th Anniversary Blog as we delve deeper into the themes of reflection, refreshing, and re-envisioning in the lead up to the UK and Ireland PRME Chapter's 10th Anniversary Conference and Doctoral Colloquium.

Sign up to our Newsletter and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the chapter. We look forward to seeing you at the Conference in June, register to attend now.

Written by Dr Karen Cripps (South East and London network co-coordinator, Senior Lecturer in Leadership – Oxford Brookes Business School) and edited by Katie Lee (UKI PRME Intern)

The PRME Chapter UK and Ireland is one of 16 Regional Chapters of the global United Nations PRME movement (established 2007). All Chapters are joined in a collective mission to transform management education and develop the responsible decision-makers of tomorrow to advance sustainable development. Globally, PRME has over 800 Higher Education Institutions as signatories.

Established in 2013, the UKI Chapter currently has 62 institutional members and is led by a ten person Steering Committee elected by the membership. The Chapter seeks to nurture a mutually supportive community of committed responsible management educators and researchers. Members benefit from a Chapter-wide event programme, an annual conference and doctoral colloquium, a growing set of Local Networks each with its own event schedule, and three annual, Chapter wide competitions focused on Innovative Pedagogies, Responsible Management Research and Student Writing. Full details of Chapter activities can be found here.

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