Around 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK, while the cost of living crisis continues to drive food poverty right across the country.
According to a YouGov survey by food poverty charity, Food Foundation, 17% of households in the UK were ‘food insecure’ in June 2023 (ate less, or went a day without eating because they couldn’t access or afford food), up from 9% in January 2022.
But beside the dismal statistics, there are success stories — real progress in the redistribution of surplus food, which has been steadily increasing, year on year. In 2022, around 170,000 tonnes of surplus food was redistributed by organisations, providing 400 million meals that would otherwise have gone to waste.
The Trussell Trust network has distributed almost 3 million emergency food parcels through their food banks in the past 12 months — the most parcels ever distributed by the network in a year.
Tackling the food poverty crisis alongside the food bank networks are businesses and charities, working together to fight food waste and hunger within poor and desperate communities. This World Food Day, we shine a light on some inspiring organisations playing a part…
‘The Bread and Butter Thing’
The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) is a charity that works in partnership with supermarkets, farms and factories throughout the UK to redistribute surplus food to struggling neighbourhoods. Via ‘mobile food clubs’, members can access three bags of produce each week, including fresh fruit and vegetables and chilled goods, worth at least £35 — for just £7.50.
The work of TBBT extends beyond food. It’s about relationships, community and bringing people together. The hubs have become places of connection and sanctuary.
“Everyone gives something to it and gains something from it. Other groups and partnerships spring up at these hubs and tap into the communities that congregate there. Their impact is much bigger than we could have imagined,” says Lisa Waldron, Public Health Manager at Kirklees Council.
TBBT Chief Executive, Mark Game, who founded the company in 2015 says: “What unites our members is that they are expert jugglers. They face multiple personal challenges whether that’s a caring responsibility, low paid work or illness, combined with the increased costs of childcare, travel and energy. Over a third of them are barely breaking even each month. These are people who have a lot on their plate. And our job is to make life easier for them.”
The Felix Project
The Felix Project is a food redistribution charity in London that strives to get high-quality, nutritious surplus foods to almost 1,000 front-line charities, primary schools and holiday programmes across the capital.
The charity was inspired by founder Justin Bryan Shaw’s son Felix, who died suddenly from meningitis in 2014. When Justin was searching for a way to commemorate his son, he remembered a boys’ football tournament his son had played in and recalled Felix being upset to learn that many of the 10-year-old boys on the opposing team hadn’t had anything to eat that day.
The team have also introduced ‘The Felix Food Fight’, a set of free lesson plans devised by their education team to help upper-key stage 2 pupils build awareness about food waste at home and in school.
UK charity FoodCycle develops community dining experiences across the country and uses surplus food to make a three course dinner for guests in socially deprived communities.
Their vision is focused around combating loneliness as well as fighting food poverty and food waste. With community dining, the charity aims to provide company to the lonely in our communities; with delicious meals enjoyed around conversation and human connection.
They create welcoming spaces for people from all walks of life to meet and eat, while also offering a weekly telephone ‘Check-in and Chat’, to support people’s health and mental wellbeing.
To learn more about charity initiatives, head to the ‘Charity and Social Impact‘ section of the website.
To raise awareness of the impact that nutrition has on the mind and body, the British Nutrition Foundation have partnered with ITN Business to create a news-style programme, launching on the 7th November.
‘Nutrition for Life‘ will take a closer look at healthy eating initiatives that are supporting the most vulnerable in society, from food banks to free school meals. Find out more.