Annual Statewide Contest Focuses On Decreasing Food Waste

Dec 30, 2020

An Illinois state agency announced the 2021 theme for its 34th annual Poster, Poetry and Prose contest.

Kristi Morris is the environmental education coordinator for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. She explained the topic for its upcoming contest.  

Compost bin.
Credit Connie Kuntz

“The theme is 'Fight Food Waste: Our Environment Can't Be Replaced,'” Morris said. “And it is based off our new curriculum units that we just partnered with the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.” 

The focus is on waste diversion options. Morris mentioned that one in nine Illinoisans were food insecure before the pandemic and that's one reason why it’s so important to try to eliminate unnecessary waste.

"There's environmental concerns, too. And that's kind of another big push about food waste. It is the biggest, the largest municipal waste stream in Illinois," she explained. "And our landfills, which is just outstanding, as it decomposes it creates greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change."

The contest is for fifth and sixth graders. Morris said children in those grades can leave a great impression on their families. And, perhaps, influence their actions.

“Kind of that age group too that they can take it home even and share it with their family,” she shared, “and you know, be excited about what they learn about, ‘Uh, hey, mom, we should we should try composting or something.’”

Morris also shared that there’s a free food waste online curriculum available for students, teachers and parents.

The competition will take place virtually and the entry deadline is Feb. 1.  More details about the contest can be found at IEPA’s website.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at