Doing your bit to help fix food waste.
Six million tons of food is thrown away each year in the UK. That’s equivalent to the combined weight of three million cars stacked on top of each other. Along with an environmental cost, we pay the price in our back pocket too. Producing that amount of food costs around £10 billion, while adding roughly 12 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Bringing it closer to home, sending that amount of food to landfill costs each UK family around £700. It’s a shameful fact that while our mountain of waste grows higher and higher, eight million households across the UK struggle to put a meal on the table.
At Foodcycle we get upset about this kind of thing. To do our bit, we’ve set up projects in communities across the UK and support people living with hunger and poverty. We do it by using food otherwise destined for the bin. At our Lewisham hub, we accept donations and collect sell-by date food from supermarkets, then cook a healthy three-course vegetarian meal on Saturday’s, serving it to people who would otherwise be without the basics, company or conversation. Hosting a community meal at the weekend was originally inspired by Rushey Green Time Bank, an organisation that values everyone’s time as equal, one hour equals one hour. For every hour you spend helping someone in your community, you are entitled to an hour in return.
Every week we serve up to fifty guests who meet other local people in a space where different backgrounds are welcome. It sounds like fun, but it’s much more than that. A lack of social contact has a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. With over half our guests living alone, dealing with mental health issues or loneliness, being able to come to a regular community event is incredibly important. We see a lot of the same faces each week and the same happy smiles as people leave. Some of the stories we’ve heard are truly touching; like the two ladies who didn’t know each other before Foodcycle, but bonded after finding out they’d been looking after their sick husbands. Our event enables our guests to meet new people and helps rebuild their independence.
One of our goals is to improve nutrition by making sure we serve healthy food. For some of our guests, it’s their biggest meal of the week; this can be a challenge because we never know what food’s going to come through the door. Sometimes there are moments where you think “what can we do with 20kg of bananas?!”. We’ve had some brilliant culinary successes, like Josh’s hummus with fresh peas, George’s rainbow salad, Kavina’s veggie shepherd’s pie and Anna’s veggie burgers with caramelized onions. When one of the big supermarkets gave us a hundred eggs, we reached for the frittata cookbook! We hope the work we do inspires others to cook and try out new things. The biggest kick for us is raising awareness about food waste and proving that you can make a delicious meal with something you might have otherwise been about to throw away.
This year, we’ve served over 1200 meals and used 2200kg of surplus food in Lewisham alone, and the great thing is everyone’s welcome. You don’t have to be a Masterchef winner or a Michelin star pastry chef, you just have to be part of your community. It all comes down to our hard-working volunteers, our lovely guests, and our generous donors.
Thanks to the generosity of parlez, we’ll continue making a positive impact on people’s lives locally. We can all do our bit finding a solution to food waste, being mindful of what you throw away is probably the simplest. Let’s look to a future with less hunger, less loneliness, and less waste.
Do you want to volunteer? From collecting surplus food to chopping veg, serving meals or hosting guests, anyone can get involved. It’s a fun way to be part of your community.
Visit our website FoodCycle Lewisham