The Fairchild Challenge Focuses on Food Waste
Jan 22

The Fairchild Challenge Focuses on Food Waste

By Ashlee Cubarney, Let's Move Pittsburgh program assistant

This month we wanted to highlight a program we have here at Phipps and how it is impacting local students! Now in its ninth year at Phipps, the Fairchild Challenge is a free, interdisciplinary, environmental science competition for high schools and middle schools designed to engage students of diverse interests, abilities, talents and backgrounds to explore the natural world. The various projects are completed at the participating schools and submitted to Phipps for judging.

A recent challenge in October challenged students with creating a plant-based cookbook which utilized “scrap” foods to make tasty treats. By using bruised fruits, oddly shaped vegetables and food scraps in their recipes, students reduced their overall household waste, saved money and reduced their carbon footprint! Shockingly one third of the food raised or prepared isn’t eaten. Regardless of the reason, uneaten produce uses up resources and produces greenhouse gases. Reducing food waste is considered the third most beneficial change we can make to reverse global warming.

Below you will find recipes submitted for the plant-based cookbook for you to try at home! To learn more about the Fairchild Challenge, please visit our website and keep a look out for upcoming challenges on our blog!


Garlic Potato Skins

Peters Township Middle School — Shelby Bonczek


  • Skin of two potatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Rinse the potatoes thoroughly, then peel off the skin in strips. Place the peelings in a large bowl, add the olive oil, minced onion, minced garlic and parsley into the bowl and mix well. Line a tray with parchment paper. Distribute the potato skin mixture evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, then flip skins on the tray. Proceed to bake for 20 additional minutes. Sprinkle on cheese and bake for the remaining 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!


Baked Beet Leaves

Brentwood Middle School — Ceci Foley, Kellie Bruschi, and Paige Mortimore


  • ~1 large bunch of beet leaves
  • 1 tbs. Olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Wash beet leaves and remove inner rib of beet stems. Place beet leaves in large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lightly toss. Place beet leaves in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and season with desired salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp.


Apple Peel Tea

Central Catholic High School — Colin McDowell


  • Peels of 3 to 4 apples
  • 3 cups water
  • Cinnamon and sugar (to taste)
  • Honey (optional)


Place 3 cups of water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add apple peels, simmer for 10 minutes. Remove peels and add desired cinnamon and sugar, stir until dissolved. Add honey for additional sweetness, if needed.