Earlier this year, China adopted a law penalizing excessive food waste. Now, one second school principal is hoping his students get the message—a message he’s communicating by noshing on the horrified kids’ leftovers.
The India Times reports that Wang Yongxin is the head of a private secondary school in Oiyang, located in China’s Hunan province. Wang was filmed waiting hungrily by the cafeteria trash bin, where he blocked the students from tossing their trash and ate the leftovers directly off of their trays. The students were reportedly so embarrassed that they vowed to finish their meals in the future. “When they saw me eating their classmates’ leftovers, some kids finished their meals,” Wang told a local news source. “Now some of the students are informing the staff how much food they need, which helps to decrease food waste.”
This wasn’t a one-time thing; Wang explained that he’s been eating his “three daily meals” from students’ leftovers since he began the campaign, eating a total of seven unfinished lunches over the course of a week. “I want to be a role model for my children, showing them that food wasting is bad,” he says. “My approach has astonished not just the students, but also the educators.”
Embarrassed students aside, not everyone is thrilled with Wang’s campaign. The Times cited one commenter who used Weibo, a microblogging site, to speak out against the stunt. “It’s good to be frugal, but eating others’ leftovers is a bad example for epidemic control,” the Weibo user wrote. “Maybe they should think of other ways to educate the students.” Personally, I can’t believe these kids have so much leftover food to begin with. When I was that age, I’d hoover my lunch and my friends’ lunch, then go back for soft serve for dessert. Ah, well—at least somebody’s eating the leftovers.