Friday, 27 November 2015 10:39

Focus on: The Hills’ Love Food Hate Waste program

In order to capture the unique cultural influences that shaped discussion around food waste within the Chinese Community Group, Council commissioned local artist, Angelika Erbsland, to attend the workshops and create an artwork capturing the ideas discussed at the three workshops.  The resulting artwork was a strong reflection of the cultural influences that impact waste practices in the Chinese Community. In order to capture the unique cultural influences that shaped discussion around food waste within the Chinese Community Group, Council commissioned local artist, Angelika Erbsland, to attend the workshops and create an artwork capturing the ideas discussed at the three workshops. The resulting artwork was a strong reflection of the cultural influences that impact waste practices in the Chinese Community. Artwork by Angelika Erbsland

The Hills Shire LGA has one of the fastest growing Chinese communities in NSW. In some suburbs, such as Carlingford, over 13 per cent of the total population were born in China.

The Hills Shire Council’s resource recovery officers found that due to cultural and language barriers, regular messaging regarding food waste and avoidance was not reaching this rapidly growing Chinese community, particularly among those with limited knowledge of English.

Council needed a program to build the new-Chinese community’s knowledge of local waste processes and guidelines before they developed bad waste habits.
Funding was obtained through the Love Food Hate Waste grants program.


The program

Resource recovery officers sought to develop a food waste education program for the Chinese CALD community that gave individuals the knowledge they needed to build positive waste habits, with the hope that participants would become food waste ambassadors within their own social circles.

A series of three, two-hour workshops were designed for a group of about 30 individuals. These workshops would be delivered over a number of weeks with the hope that this would reinforce waste messages and more effectively foster behaviour change.

The first workshop explored the environmental and social impacts of food wastage while the second and third workshops offered practical guidance on how to reduce and avoid food waste at home.

In order to break down the barriers that had previously prevented this community engaging with Council, the entire program was run in Mandarin. Effort was also made to ensure that all content was delivered in the context of Chinese cultural and food traditions.

Program participants were engaged through an existing Chinese Community Group (CCG) based in The Hills Shire.

The final group consisted of 30 female participants between the ages of 30 and 60. This included new migrants as well as more established residents involved in the CCG.


Outcomes

Prior to the first workshop, participants indicated minimal awareness of the social and environmental impacts of food waste. However, it was immediately apparent that this was a topic of significant interest to the group.

The workshops were an outstanding success. With high levels of attendance and active participation across all three sessions.

Facilitators found that once participants were given the basic understanding of local waste issues they enthusiastically offered their own tips on how to reduce food waste at home; triggering lively discussions that often extended well over the allocated two hours.

This high level of engagement was attributed to participants’ ability to learn and ask questions in their own language, as well as council’s decision to use an existing community group that already met on a regular basis.

Workshop facilitators found that participants had a high level of knowledge regarding food preparation and storage as relevant to Chinese cuisine, and once given a basic understanding of local waste issues were able to adapt this knowledge to improve waste avoidance.

The tight-knit nature of this new-migrant community meant that participants also proved fantastic ambassadors for the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ message, achieving a key objective of the program; motivate others in the community.
One participant, who worked for a local organisation called Hills Community Care, requested that the food waste program be modified for the elderly clients at the centre.

Council has since been able to offer the program to several linguistically diverse groups within the Community Care organisation with great success.

During evaluation, participants indicated they were keen to learn more about waste and recycling in future. As a result The Hills Shire Council has since run two additional workshops in response overwhelming demand.


Learnings from the project

While the Love Food Hate Waste program was specifically targeted to the Chinese community, there were several key learnings that could be adapted to suit education programs for any CALD community.

Language can be a significant barrier to learning

Individuals with a limited understanding of English may not pick up on regular council messages and promotions. Additionally, those who feel self-conscious about their English may not actively seek out information.

When addressed in Mandarin, participants were confident and enthusiastic learners who actively sought to share their own experiences and interpret food waste messages in a culturally relevant way.

Tap in to an existing community

This program was offered to an existing group who already met regularly. This made the program easier to deliver as:
• Participants already knew each other and felt comfortable sharing ideas;
• A regular time and meeting place was already established allowing council to run in-depth, recurring events with minimal risk of drop-outs.

Maintain flexibility

It is important to maintain flexibility and work with the existing cultural practices and level of knowledge in the group.

Food is a very culturally specific experience; the way people cook and use food can vary significantly from culture to culture. Messages that resonate with one community may not work as well with others.

Being open and flexible also allows two-way learning. In this instance, council officers were able to learn a lot about the community, their attitudes to waste and how much they already knew.

Tap into local resources

The Hills’ Chinese Community Group was able to assist with translation during this project, and many migrant resource centres offer similar services.



Last modified on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 16:29