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Food Waste vs. Food Poverty

8th plate

Headlines covering the lack of healthy eating and soaring living costs for families in the UK have been dominating the news recently, but despite the statistics about how much worse off households will be after Brexit, and statements that fruit and veg will soon only be afforded by the wealthy, there are in fact many activists working to solve both of these problems.

Food waste is a huge issue in the UK for both personal and environmental reasons. According to Wrap, UK households throw away 7.3 tonnes of food & drink a year, more than half of which is avoidable. Though retail and wholesale businesses only throw away 0.3 tonnes a year, all of this food and drink waste is considered avoidable as it was intended to be at least sold. Food waste which ends up in landfill produces a large amount of methane, and as the agriculture industry uses 70% of all water worldwide, this means all wasted food is also wasted water.

Food poverty, on the other hand, as defined by the Food Ethics Council, means that “an individual or household isn’t able to obtain healthy, nutritious food, or can’t access the food they would like to eat.” It is estimated that one in four low-income families struggle to eat regularly, and 17% of British adults worry they will run out of food before they can afford to buy more.

Compare these two issues, and it seems the solution is staring right at us

The Food Foundation is just one organisation working to improve the food system to help those in need. Their vision, to create “A food system which supports the health and well-being of the UK public,” is targeted by adopting a consumer-first approach. By conducting surveys of food poverty, attending symposiums on sustainable food and nutrition, and backing the Peas Please movement to encourage Brits to eat more veg, they are leading the way towards a systematic solution to food poverty.

Find out more.

The Real Junk Food Project uses a Pay As You Feel concept to provide food to those who don’t have it. The project’s founder, Adam Smith has explained, "I see kids coming into my cafe that can't afford fruit and vegetables. And yet we're allowed to throw away tonnes of edible food every week. It makes me really, really angry.” The cafes take surplus food from a huge range of places, including restaurants, supermarkets, wholesalers, food banks and food photographers, and the team know that common sense and experience is enough to decide what is safe for human consumption. They state, “In order for us to prove the value and safety of food waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food waste is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings.”

Get in touch with your local café here.

Or request a café Starter Pack from:

Food Cycle are an organisation who aim to strengthen communities and improve nutrition to promote a society where no one is hungry or lonely. Catering for anyone who wants food and friendship, the project takes surplus food to feed visitors on the day and gives them enough to take home for the rest of the week too.

Join their team of over 3000 volunteers here.

OLIO is an app designed to connect neighbours and local businesses with each other so surplus food can be shared and not thrown away. Users can add a photo and description of the food or household item they wish to donate, and neighbours can request and pick up when it suits both parties. The team behind the app explain, “Here at OLIO we believe that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively – one rescued cupcake, carrot or bottle of lotion at a time – we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away.” As of today, 401,208 items of food have been shared over 41 countries.

Search OLIO on the App Store or Google Play to download.

NCASS has teamed up with FareShare South West and A Greener Festival to reduce the amount of food waste at festivals and events. The project is called Eighth Plate and develops systems to salvage food before it goes off and provide this to food banks and soup kitchens in the South West. NCASS Director, Mark Laurie explained, “NCASS will continue to support the food waste redistribution project because sustainability at events is a big part of our mantra, and helping those in need is something that we feel very strongly about.”

Read more about 8th Plate here.

All of these organisations encourage the British public to get involved, promote the discussion of food waste for families and businesses, and aim for their values to reach as many people as possible. There may not be any one solution to food poverty or to the rising prices of healthy, nutritious foods, but positive contributions to end food poverty and waste are being made every day.

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