How Does Our School Food System Create Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

In this design challenge lesson, students examine their school food system and develop an investigation about food waste in order to know what should change.


Context for Use

This is the second lesson in the Climate Resiliency Education Design Challenge Unit. These design challenges are meant to follow the middle or high school Climate Resiliency Education units and to have students come up with real world solutions.

A trash can overflowing with food.

Photo Source: USDA

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

Students will learn about greenhouse gas emissions resulting from waste in our school food system.


  1. (5 minutes) Reorient students to the storyline. 
  2. (10 minutes) Sharing Initial Ideas Discussion: Identify the interacting pieces to develop model of the food system.
  3. (20 minutes) Using Models: Draw a model of the food system. Compare and contrast the different parts.
  4. (30 minutes) Text: Read the Food Waste article and discuss to build understanding.
  5. (10 minutes) Discussion: Use the models to identify what they should study.
  6. (10 minutes) Sharing Initial Ideas Discussion: Generate ideas on next steps.
  7. (15 minutes) Analyzing Data: Estimate how much food is wasted at the school on any given day.
  8. (10 minutes) Brainstorm: Generate ideas for next steps in the investigations.
Illustration of two people high-fiving in a work environment

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