Episode 7: Lockdown Lessons in Sustainability with Donna Heath
Episode 7: Lockdown Lessons in Sustainability with Donna Heath
In this episode, Ragnar talks with Donna Heath. A hospitality training officer at award-winning work-based training provider Cambrian Training Company in Welshpool, she’s the National Sustainability Champion for the Culinary Association of Wales. Donna is taking Feed the Planet initiatives across Wales to inspire sustainable food consumption in the professional kitchen and at home.
Working closely with schools, colleges and businesses, Donna promotes and implements Worldchefs’ Feed the Planet programs, including the Food Heroes Challenge and Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals.
Feed the Planet aims to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and professionals and to support people in need through emergency relief, food poverty alleviation and education. Founded by Worldchefs, the initiative is run in partnership with Electrolux Food Foundation and AIESEC.
Donna and her fellow Welsh chefs have brought the Food Heroes Challenge, a chef-driven education project for children, to over 200 classrooms in Wales so far. Using a toolkit developed by Worldchefs through the UNICEF sustainability initiative World’s Largest Lesson, schoolchildren between 8 and 12 are taught sustainable eating habits. Raising awareness to food waste and smart eating for the planet, the initiative contributes to Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible Consumption.
In 2019 alone, Worldchefs’ community and Feed the Planet partners Electrolux Food Foundation and AIESEC delivered the workshop to over 30,000 kids around the globe.
Designed to help inspire the next generation to eat sustainably, the 70-minute workshop includes activities, videos, workbook materials and a Food Hero award. “It’s a really fun workshop, so they’re learning but they’re having fun too,” says Donna. “We get them to draw a picture of their favorite meal. Then we get them to investigate it.” Once they understand more about where their food comes from and the footprint on their plates, they make pledges to improve.
Donna Heath and her colleagues at Cambrian Training Company have translated and deliver the toolkit in Welsh as well as English. In pre-pandemic days, they made visits to classrooms themselves, although schools can conduct Food Heroes workshops on their own using the free toolkit.
In an effort to make the lesson more available amid COVID-19, they’ve recorded the interactive lesson on video, empowering children and parents in lockdown across to Wales to play their part in taking care of the planet.
More parents taking part in the lesson has been a silver-lining: “People are homeschooling; the parents are doing [the Food Heroes lesson] along with their children. So when the kids are asking – ‘Where does our lamb come from? Where do our apples come from?’ – they can go to the fridge, go to the cupboard, and check. The parents are getting involved and hopefully the parents are making those pledges and making those changes.”
She hopes that parents are inspired to rethink their choices as they rush through the grocery shelves. “We’re all running out of time, we’re rushing around and were actually just picking it off the shelves. But take a moment to look at the label and compare – is there an option that is a little better for me and a little better for the environment?”
Beyond changing the habits in the home, Donna and her team at Cambrian Training also educate professionals on bringing sustainability into the professional kitchen. Feed the Planet’s Sustainability for Culinary Professionals curriculum involves a series of seven modules exploring key topics in food, energy, water and waste on global, regional and local levels.
The curriculum was developed by Worldchefs as a resource to culinary schools and training programs, but now can be adopted even by individuals after the first online webinar was held in late May. Available on Worldchefs TV, a beginner’s course allows chefs to watch the webinar series online, take a brief quiz to test their knowledge, and earn a digital badge in sustainability.
Cambrian Training has found that their learners are eager for opportunities to learn more about sustainability. “Rather than disconnecting, they’re saying ‘what can I do?’” Using this time to upskill, chefs are preparing to return to the kitchen with new perspectives and practices to put in place. They’re preparing industry professionals to respond with menus that reflect changing food trends and a renewed interest from diners on locally sourced ingredients.
“Everything will change when we reopen, not just that we’ll have to sit a bit further apart. People’s opinions will have changed about the food that they eat and where it comes from and what the impact of that food is on the environment, much more aware,” says Donna.
Feed the Planet is an initiative to inspire sustainable food consumption among communities and culinary professionals. Founded by Worldchefs, it is run in partnership with Electrolux Food Foundation and AIESEC. Learn more about all our Feed the Planet programs at www.howtofeedtheplanet.com.
Teach a Food Heroes workshop of your own! You can download everything you need here. The lesson materials are available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Welsh.
Interested in earning a digital badge in sustainability? You can take part in the Sustainability for Culinary Professionals webinar here.
For more stories on sustainability, check out our Sustainability Around the World webcast. Join the conversation with outstanding chefs creating menus that are healthy and tasty for both people and the planet. Keep an eye on our Facebook to tune in live and find past episodes on Worldchefs TV.
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Vicky Watkins on 12th June 2020