• Wasted food: An estimated 400,000 tonnes of surplus food can be reclaimed each year from the food retailer industry to be made into healthy and nutritious meals.
• Food poverty: There are 4 million people affected by food poverty in the UK. Poor diet related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion pounds each and every year
• Cooking and nutrition: Many young lack knowledge of healthy eating and cooking, and such skills could be used to find gainful employment of for the general benefit of their communities.
• A volunteering programme for young people that involves donating their time to cook food in donated kitchen space to feed to the hungry (to groups of homeless people, refugees and old people, for example).
• A mechanism for reclaiming some of the mountain of unused food, which can then be cooked and eaten.
• FoodCycle, which is a volunteer programme launched in May 2009 on a pilot basis, which is rapidly developing as a national scheme.
• An emerging chain of restaurants and cafes serving “surplus food” and run by volunteers, operating under the name “Pie in the Sky”; the first are in Muswell Hill and Bromley-by-Bow in London and in Bristol.
FoodCycle is based loosely on the campus Kitchens Project in the USA retaining the core idea of a triple donation (time, space and food) to create meals for the hungry, but more flexible in its implementation.
FoodCycle started with student projects at London School of Economics and Imperial College in London, and is now expanding rapidly to other campuses and to include projects based at community centres.
There are two ways of getting involved: as a volunteer with an existing project, which typically will involve a few hours a week helping collect, cook, deliver and serve the food; or by starting your own FoodCycle group in your community, which you could find a lot of fun. FoodCycle groups cook vegetarian food (for lots of reasons including food safety requirements) and often collect and deliver it by bicycle (for environmental reasons). Food is collected from markets, from shops and supermarkets, from manufacturers, from restaurants; and what isn’t donated is purchased from Sainsbury’s using vouchers donated to FoodCycle.
FoodCycle, the best new idea since sliced bread! www.foodcycle.org.uk