Today (28 April 2021) marks the official ‘Stop Food Waste Day’, uniting the globe in a mission to end unnecessary food waste. An issue that affects all of us – starting with our own consumption – EV.’s Account Director, Hattie D’Souza weighs in on what EAST VILLAGE. has done to address it...
All those guilty of doing the weekly shop, only to find a soggy lettuce and a bag of wrinkled carrots at the bottom of the veg draw a week later, say ‘aye!’. Anyone with eyes bigger than their belly, who often orders way more than they could ever eat, raise your hand. And last, but not least, if you have ever bought that experimental food item to make that one recipe, which you just never *quite* got round to making – only for it to end up in the bin – step forward. We’re guessing that, if you’re anything like #TeamEV., at least one of the above applies!
You’re not alone… but that’s the problem. Every year, 10 million tonnes of food ends up as waste – wait for it – in the UK ALONE. This astronomical number isn’t just bad for our conscience and our bank accounts; food waste is a contributing factor to key societal challenges facing the world today, including hunger and poverty, climate change, health and wellbeing and the sustainability of farming and oceans.
These figures are one of the key reasons why we first set up the homeless support charity, Let’s Feed Brum. Having started volunteering with community project, Inspiration Support, under Ben Rafiqi, I’d seen first-hand that people were struggling to make ends meet. That’s why when talking with Raj Rana, the owner of Indian restaurant Itihaas, and hearing him speak about just how much food waste there was in the city of Birmingham, the two things didn’t add up.
On one end of the spectrum, you have people who are unable to provide food for themselves and their families; on the other, you have restaurants who have to pay to throw away perfectly good meals at the end of each night. When the co-founding trustees started discussing this, we realised that there was – at least in part – a solution: by connecting the dots between the restaurants, shops, venues, and event organisers, with soup kitchens, hostels, refuges, and night shelters. That’s how Let’s Feed Brum (LFB) was born; and today, we work with partners across the city to help them end their own food waste, including independent and chain restaurants; local supermarkets and global brands; schools, community centres, and places of worship.
With this excess food, we serve up nutritious meals and tasty snacks to those at risk of or experiencing homelessness in the city, through our LFB Breakfast Clubs in the Birmingham Cathedral Gardens every Tuesday and Thursday, and our nightly walkabouts covering the city centre and beyond. And, because we always practice what we preach, any surplus food that we can’t use is distributed to accommodation and support services in Birmingham to dish up to their users too. This now sees the LFB team complete upwards of 40 deliveries every single day!
Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative we can – and should – all get behind and hopefully the story of Let’s Feed Brum shows that there are ways we can all make a small difference… and have a huge impact! Since we started in 2016, our LFB volunteers have served approximately 228,125 meals to the people who need it most, from food that would otherwise end up in the bin, so it goes to show that a little truly can go a long way. As always, it’s about doing your part to change your own habits, encouraging others to do the same, and approaching those in positions of power to harness their own impact too. Together, we truly can make Stop Food Waste Day a lifelong commitment.