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Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

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Food Waste, Sustainability


After policy change, educational programming has been cited as one of the most powerful tools for improving food systems and decreasing food waste. University students represent a population in which emerging habits, skills, and identity may be targeted easily and changed through on-campus educational programming. To understand how to best implement programming on impacts of food, food waste, and related issues, the factors that underlie students’ behaviors related to food waste must be understood. We analyzed factors that influence food waste–related behaviors within a university student population to understand the potential for improving targeted, school-based food waste diversion programming. Four hundred and ninety-five students were surveyed to: (1) identify self-reported knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to food waste; (2) explore underlying factors driving food waste–related behaviors through exploratory factor analysis (EFA); and (3) understand the interactions between factors within a regression framework. Participants reported that they most often left food on their plate because it did not taste good or they had overestimated portion size. A majority of participants already performed many food waste reduction behaviors, and were both interested in taking action and aware that their efforts could make a difference. Food management skills, compost attitudes, sustainability attitudes, and reported household food waste were correlated, in various ways, with both intent to reduce and reported food waste reduction behaviors. Opportunities for improving university-related food waste programming through this data are explored.


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