Tipperary schools are being asked to join a nationwide campaign against food waste as world hunger levels rise to new alarming levels.
Hunger Heroes, run by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide, raises awareness of the global hunger crisis and teaches children how they can help solve it.
“Hunger Heroes is about fighting hunger and food waste locally, in our schools and in our kitchens,” said Lauren Wright, Concern’s Schools and Youth Programme Officer.
“This is a fun campaign for schools about very serious issues that affect us all."
As part of the campaign, schools are asked to mark Hunger Heroes Day on Friday, October 27 - when students can leave their uniforms at home and go to school in fun costumes while learning how they can help the 815 million people in the world who do not have enough food to eat.
The stark figure, which amounts to 11 per cent of the world’s population, was revealed by the United Nations just last week and is up 38 million from the 777 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2015.
Concern Worldwide said 30 per cent of all food in the world (1.3 billion tonnes) is being wasted, which it said would be enough to feed all the world's hungry four times over.
In Ireland, it is estimated that one million tonnes of food is let go to waste and that this costs each household an average of €700 a year.
The campaign was launched recently at Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Clonburris National School in Clondalkin, Dublin where pupils dressed up as fruit and vegetables and marhced in their yard chanting “stop wasting food” while holding placards with demands like “don't let me decompose.”
“It’s not very nice to waste food,” said Katie Gallagher (6), who was one of the children at the campaign launch.
Katie also pointed out that people who waste food risk creating a pungent stench in their own home when she explained: “That means you are going to have a very bad smell in your house.”
“Hunger Heroes teaches children the connection between food waste and world hunger and how they can help build a future where they can be significantly reduced," added Concern's Lauren Wright.
“Just over half of all food waste is from consumers and it generally ends up in landfills, creating ozone damaging gases that contribute to climate change.
“One of the things we teach is how to store food properly in a fridge or if it should be in a fridge at all - and to be clever about food shopping.
“We urge schools to contact us and to take part in Hunger Heroes, which will make Ireland’s children and their families more aware of this issue and its consequences.”
Lauren said every school that takes part is sent an information pack full of games, posters, fact sheets and lessons for students, who each get a Hunger Hero certificate for participating.
Last week’s joint report from the United Nations on world hunger showed the number of hungry people in the world increased for the first time since the turn of the century - and it has sparked concern that conflict and climate change could be reversing years of progress.
To take part in the Hunger Heroes campaign, schools should contact Concern’s Lauren Wright at email@example.com or 01 4178078.