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Loving food, hating waste

2 September 2016

FoodCycle was recently shortlisted to win the Charity Times ‘Community Award’, which will be announced at the end of September. In this blog, FoodCycle’s Clare Skelton reveals how their From Farm to Fork project is helping to reduce food waste and food poverty, building skills and communities, and even getting people dancing! 

Clare Skelton

Clare Skelton

Food sits at the centre of many parts of our lives: it gives us energy, it nourishes us, it makes us happy (anyone else suffer from ‘hanger’?!), it’s part of our culture and it connects us as human beings. Sadly, millions of tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK, at the same time as millions of people are going hungry in our towns and cities. From Farm to Fork aims to do something about this.

Run jointly by campaigning organisation Feedback and national charity FoodCycle, From Farm to Fork aims to save food that is going to waste – and put it to good use. Young people across the country go with Feedback to farmers’ fields where they reclaim unharvested fruit and vegetables through an activity called ‘gleaning’. They save fruit and vegetables which are rejected because they don’t meet supermarkets’ strict rules. These vegetables might be a bit wonky or misshapen, but they are still perfectly good to eat.

Across the country Foodcycle volunteers then cook the reclaimed fruit and vegetables into tasty, healthy three-course meals which are served to homeless people, older people and refugees. Everyone sits down to share the meal together, and to enjoy a good chat about everything from the weather to politics to football!

Making a difference

Brassica-gleaning-8By the middle of the summer, seven gleaning days across the country saved over 5 tonnes of fresh produce from going to waste. Over 700 young people had registered as new FoodCycle volunteers and the charity had opened seven new projects in Peterborough, Birmingham, Exeter, County Durham and three in London. Volunteers at FoodCycle served over 16,000 community meals and gave away over 3,000 takeaway meals for guests to eat during the week.

Some of the most fun events were disco soups in London’s Kings Cross, Borough Market and the V&A Museum. Volunteers slice and dice surplus fruit and veg, they then cook it into free community meals at the same time as dancing to bands and DJs. They are a lot of fun and a great way of getting people together to learn about food waste and what can be done to fight it.

It helps the volunteers as well. In a recent survey, 90% of 18-24 year olds say they have developed a better understanding of people from different backgrounds, cultures and age groups since volunteering with FoodCycle, 80% have made new friends and some have already set-up and started their own community project.

Want to get involved?

Strawberry-gleaning-15Does this sound up your street? There are lots of ways you can get stuck in and make a difference with From Farm to Fork. We’re always looking for more young people who want to get out in the fields and into the kitchen.

You can get involved by saving food from fields (it’s super fun, read some experiences here), then following it on its journey by volunteering to cook and serve meals at your nearest FoodCycle project.

Farm to Fork volunteer Katherine said: “My favourite part of volunteering with the Gleaning Network was meeting like-minded people and working together to complete an invaluable task. I helped make a difference to the food waste scandal.”

Check out the From Farm to Fork project page:

Sign-up to go gleaning:

Register as a FoodCycle volunteer:


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