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I’m ashamed that in this day and age, so many adults in the UK rely on our growing numbers of food banks to feed their families. But that’s not all we’re doing wrong… Did you know that in some counties, food waste makes up almost half of the average household general waste bin?
I was delighted to learn from the West Sussex Waste Partnership that it’s working with food partnerships across the county to encourage residents to share their surplus food, to help those in food poverty whilst reducing wastage. Can we have more of this please?
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been significant changes to food behaviours in the UK which have been unfortunate for many. Sustain UK estimates that 8.4 million people are living in food poverty, with BAME (black, Asian & minority ethnic), disabled and older people worst affected. Pre-lockdown, in 2019-20, a record high of nearly two million people in the UK used a food bank, according to the Trussell Trust. The numbers are estimated to have increased hugely due to the pandemic, so redistributing food would help those struggling with their household budgets while cutting waste – along with the cost of waste collection, which will benefit us all.
One excellent scheme that spans more than 50 countries, is OLIO, which connects communities with each other and local food businesses, so surplus food can be shared and not discarded. All users need do is simply snap a photo of their spare items and add it to the app. Those living nearby can request anything that takes their fancy. The food, which is always offered for free, is shared when it’s nearing its sell-by date, or if it’s spare home-grown fruit or vegetables, or when residents are going away and will not use it. Created to try and prevent food waste and help reduce greenhouse gases (food waste is one of the world's largest emitters) the app has enabled over 1.6 million items to be shared. Community fridges are another great idea… Located in a public space, spare food is dropped off at these fridges by small businesses, to be rescued and shared amongst those who need it. Then of course there are the Food Banks, which are widely used...
The situation we’re in is far from ideal, but the more we can do to prevent waste by sharing our surplus food, the quicker we’ll all be back on our feet. Now all we need to do is get the message out and expand the schemes that have proved to work.
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25th February 2021