Clean Plate Campaign's next target: Hawker centres

Food From The Heart volunteer Charlene Teo handing out pens and stickers to pupils at Kong Hwa School at the launch of this year's Clean Plate Campaign yesterday. This year, 65 primary schools are taking part in the campaign which aims to reduce food
Food From The Heart volunteer Charlene Teo handing out pens and stickers to pupils at Kong Hwa School at the launch of this year's Clean Plate Campaign yesterday. This year, 65 primary schools are taking part in the campaign which aims to reduce food wastage, up from 51 last year.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

The Clean Plate Campaign, which began its sixth year in schools yesterday to get pupils not to waste food, will be expanded to hawker centres for the first time.

Chief executive officer Sim Bee Hia of charity group Food From The Heart (FFTH) announced this yesterday at the launch of this year's Clean Plate Campaign, which kicked off at Kong Hwa School.

Ms Sim said that the expansion - starting with at least one hawker centre in October - will include more hawker centres and corporates next year, taking the campaign nationwide. She did not elaborate on the details as they are still being discussed.

Sixty-five primary schools - each with about 1,000 pupils - are taking part in the campaign from this month to October. It aims to raise awareness of the environmental and societal impact of food waste.

The first campaign in 2013 saw five schools taking part, and the number increased to 51 last year.

FFTH's Clean Plate Ambassadors, who are volunteers, will visit the schools to share with pupils the message of not wasting food and to inculcate habits to encourage mindful eating.

At each school, they will also count the pupils' empty plates. At the end of the campaign, the top 10 schools with the highest numbers - or the least leftovers - will win trophies.

Last year, a total of 31,000 empty plates were recorded by the 51 participating schools. This year, FFTH aims to hit 48,000 clean plates. Each pupil with a clean plate will receive a pen as a token.

Mrs Cheong Ye Ling, principal of Kong Hwa School, said the school hopes to teach children to order only what they can finish. It is the first time the school is taking part in the campaign.

"Children can make a request to stallholders for smaller portions, for example, to ask for less rice, in order to prevent unnecessary wastage," she said.

"Habits are inculcated at a young age, and the practice of not ordering or taking too much food and finishing everything on one's plate should start in primary school."

Eleven-year-old Tricia Wong, a Primary 6 pupil from Kong Hwa School who is an environmental ambassador, said she has to remind schoolmates to finish their food during her weekly recess-time patrols.

"There are a lot of people going hungry all over the world. So it's pitiful to see food going to waste. It also wastes parents' hard-earned money. I would encourage my friends not to buy so much food, as it's regretful when the food is wasted," added Tricia.

Said Ms Sim: "We believe that the best way to use food resources effectively is to avoid unnecessary wastage, and we can start from our own plate. We are heartened by this year's response and the year-on-year increase in participation.

"We hope the campaign will encourage all of us to be mindful of our eating habits - to take only the food we can finish and leave zero leftovers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'Clean Plate Campaign's next target: Hawker centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe