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Oulu students ponder how to stop food waste

Sixth grade students at Oulu International School were concerned about the amount of food that they saw wasted on school premises. They tried to find a solution to the problem in a news report they prepared for Yle's News Class Day. They joined thousands of students across the country who got the opportunity to try their hand at journalism.

Video: Lunchtime at school.
Students from Oulu International School ponder how to prevent food waste. Video: Yle

Finland wastes approximately 100 million kilograms of food every year, according to Agrifood Research Finland, MTT.

While households account for the bulk of food that gets dumped in bins, students at Oulu International School also observed plates being emptied into the garbage at their cafeteria. They decided to ask why people didn't eat all the food they took.

"Yes, sometimes I have wasted food. Sometimes for some reason it doesn't agree with my stomach and it's just not going too well and I don't feel like eating it for some reason," said teacher Marja Peedo, who is also the leader of the school's Green Planet project.

Others were more direct about their reasons for leaving food on the plate.

"Sometimes I don't like it," student Heta Iisakka declared bluntly.

Solutions: Bin monitors, better food, eat what you take

Some of the students' interviewees were aware of the problem and had already thought about how they could avoid wasting food.

"Sometimes I end up taking too much when I'm hungry but I try to be very careful. When I go grocery shopping I think I'd make a list," commented school principal Raija Perttunen.

"Maybe we could just remind everybody to just take what they're going to eat instead of throwing it away," added Marja Peedo.

Heta Iisakka proposed a system of "bin police" to supervise school cafeterias and make sure that students - and teachers - aren't throwing food away.

One student however, had what sounded like a bulletproof solution to the problem.

"In schools we could make better food," suggested sixth grader Siiri Linna.

Yle News' third year in News Class project

This year marks the third year that Yle News has been involved in the national broadcaster Yle's media education programme. Previously, Yle News worked with students from the International School of Helsinki. 

This year however, the programme moved out of the capital region to collaborate with youngsters in Oulu. Following a crash course in news fundamentals rookie reporters took charge of cameras, lights and sound equipment to make their own news videos on subjects that they selected themselves.

The News Class programme targets school students aged 12 to 16 and pairs them with Yle journalists as mentors helping the youngsters to produce their own news output.

In 2015, Yle's Finnish and Swedish-language news class programmes expanded to offer youngsters the chance to conduct interviews with political party leaders ahead of the recently-concluded general election.

This year's project culminated in a national News Class Day on April 26, when the faces, voices and news output of the thousands of students involved will be featured on Yle’s television, radio and online news channels.

With reporting by: Valtteri Kanstrén, Isaac Meewella, Polina Smirnova, Kanola Estanislao, Isla Jokipii

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