Volunteering with FoodCycle across the Capital

Volunteering with FoodCycle across the Capital

By Libby Brown – Fundraising and Communications Officer at FoodCycle HQ) You hate waste? We hate waste! You hate food poverty? We hate food poverty! And we both agree that it’s ridiculous for food waste and food poverty to exist within the same communities? We’re a match made in heaven – you’re a FoodCycler! We work with over 1,200 volunteers across the UK at our 20 projects, and, without their amazing work, FoodCycle simply wouldn’t be possible. So much of our success is down to our incredibleand, best of all, you can join them! Whether you’re a Masterchef winner in the making or a cooking novice, everyone is welcome to volunteer with FoodCycle. From collecting surplus food to chopping, serving, local outreach or fundraising, anyone can get involved and have fun whilst making a positive difference in the community! Our London Hubs (as of May 2015) Bloomsbury: Sunday mornings FoodCycle Bloomsbury serves a variety of people in the community, including older people, those struggling to get by and people experiencing social isolation. If you’ve got some free time on a Sunday morning, sign up to volunteer and help reach out to more people in the community! “I’m the youngest of ten kids and we didn’t have two pennies to rub together, so it’s in my ethos not to throw away food. Because I’m in the lower end of the market, you know, pensioner, don’t have a lot of money, I notice these things more than the average person does. Prices have gone up so much in the past year. There’s a lot of people round here that would benefit from something like this. The block across from us is full of pensioners. Most of them will live on their own and won’t have facilities to cook in.” * Terry, Guest at FoodCycle Bloomsbury For more information, come visit us at 1pm for Sunday lunch at Somers Town Community Centre on Ossulton Street, or email bloomsbury@foodcycle.org.uk. Hackney: Thursday mornings FoodCycle Hackney opened its doors in January 2015. We’ve welcomed all sorts of volunteers and cooked up some incredible dishes in just a few months! As one of our youngest projects, there are lots of volunteer roles available with Hackney Hub and you would only need to be available between 10am and 3pm on a Thursday. Our community partners Outward are interested in expanding further across the borough – if you would like to get involved with FoodCycle this could be the perfect opportunity to make a real difference! Just email hackney@foodcycle.org.uk for more information on how to become a Hackney Hub Leader, or come and share a meal with us on Thursdays at 12.30pm at the New Kingshold Community Centre, 49 Ainsworth Road (Just off Well Street). Islington: Wednesday mornings Our Islington Hub works in partnership with Islington Mind, a fantastic mental health charity. We serve people including mental health service users and those experiencing homelessness and/or long-term unemployment, providing a tasty, nutritious meal in a safe and welcoming environment. We serve a healthy lunch every Wednesday at 1pm – if you’ve got some spare time, come down to visit or sign up to volunteer today! “I live locally in Islington, and I found out about FoodCycle. I used to work for Bank of America and I was pensioned off due to ill health… with this problem I was having suicidal thoughts. I was in a crisis home for a few weeks and then I came here [Islington Mind] and I come here daily, and I come to the FoodCycle every Wednesday. I think the food is very good – you lot do a superb job. I would describe it as a little café, a nice little café, you know, like a café by a river or something where you would go for walks and have a nice little meal, that’s how I would describe it. I’ve met new people. There are people with various problems here, but when you get here your problems go away, so to speak. We can sit down and have a nice meal, which you lot do a superb job in doing. You know I would like to help out one day.” – Rebecca, FoodCycle Islington Guest LSE: Sunday afternoons Contrary to its name, FoodCycle’s longest-running Hub is not just for students – anyone can volunteer with us! FoodCycle LSE cooks and serves a meal for those living with HIV/AIDs and their families every Sunday at 5pm. We work with The Food Chain to help offer nutritional support to vulnerable people across the capital. We have opportunities to volunteer in the kitchen from 1.30 – 5pm every Sunday or to host our guests and serve the food from 4 – 7pm. If you’d like to join FoodCycle LSE, sign up to volunteer or email lse@foodcycle.org.uk for more information. Peckham: Saturday afternoons FoodCycle Peckham is one of our newest Hubs and is based in All Saints Church Hall, on Blenheim Grove. Our community meals are open to all and brought to you with the help of many friendly, enthusiastic local volunteers. The meal is served at 5.30pm on a Saturday afternoon. Plenty of volunteering opportunities are available and we welcome a wide variety of local and London-wide people every week. For more information on how you can get involved, email peckham@foodcycle.org.uk or come down to visit us this weekend! Wandsworth: Friday mornings Our Wandsworth Hub serves a range of local people, including asylum seekers and refugees, people living on low incomes and those experiencing social isolation in the community. We cook from 10.30am on Friday mornings and serve a three-course lunch at 1pm at the United Reformed Church on Rookstone Road. Check out the feature on ITV!

For more information, email wandsworth@foodcycle.org.uk or sign up to volunteer and get stuck in! Pie in the Sky Community Cafe FoodCycle also runs a community café at the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets. We serve tasty, affordable meals from 8.30 to 3.30 every Monday to Friday. If you’d like to develop your skills in the catering industry, gain vital work experience, or just learn to cook tasty food, then volunteering at Pie in the Sky could be perfect for you! Find out more about our volunteering and training opportunities or email sian@foodcycle.org.uk for more information.

 

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DATA London – Does it Spell Green Failure?

Every week thousands of us across London go through the same routine, emptying rubbish into different bins. But what is the point, do we really know where all this rubbish is going?

The Rubbish Problem

In 2008, the EU set about getting to the nitty gritty and tackling excess waste with a ‘Waste Framework Directive.’ In layman’s terms, this is a long term strategy which for the UK, means achieving a 50% Household Recycling Rate by 2020! That’s a whole lotta junk…

Is it working?

According to research from food waste reduction and resource management charity WRAP – yes! WRAP (@WRAP_UK) stats show that avoidable household food waste was cut by a substantial 21% over 5 years from 2007 to 2012 – saving UK consumers a whopping £13 million.

How?

Some would argue that in the current economic climate, folk are tightening their purse strings in the supermarkets, spending less on excess luxury and cutting back on wasting food at home that could be eaten up. Jack Zou, a finance student living in Willen House, Islington, certainly seems to think this is the case:

“If I’m honest, I can’t even remember the last time I threw out any food item other than a banana skin! I’m very economical when it comes to food shopping – if I think there’s a chance I won’t eat it – I don’t buy it. There are so many other necessities that money could be spent on…and I know a lot of my friends feel the same.”

Recycling may also be on the rise. The data below charts Household Waste Recycling Rates in England and London Boroughs between 2009 and 2014, and it’s clear that there has been a rise in household recycling across England generally.

However, while household recycling rates appear to be going up in England generally, rates for some London boroughs are getting worse.

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Credit: Statistics from London.gov.uk

 According to a BBC article published in 2014, the fall may be because of the pressure on collection and recycling services in certain boroughs where residents live in flats and other shared houses – making recycling more challenging.

So are the Councils doing enough?

There have been complaints across middle England about Council recycling, amongst concern from some individuals that waste put out for collection for composting or renewable usage has actually – been sent for landfill disposal.

Neil Randall from Dorset, sent a Freedom of Information request to Dorset County Council about this issue, and in the response the Council admitted that a maximum of 50kg of food intended for recycling is estimated to be collected for landfill.

It could be argued that the cuts by the coalition are putting a squeeze on recycling and green policies in local government.

But in reality, this shocking recycling trend can be seen across all of London, from Newham – which has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the city – all the way up to the well-heeled streets of Hammersmith and Fulham.

I spoke to Green Party Assembly Member – Jenny Jones – and she thinks enough still isn’t being done:

“Boris Johnson must wake up to flat-lining and falling recycling rates during his mayorality, and his abject failure to get new facilities built to reach his own targets…there is great potential to convert food waste into green energy and compost through anaerobic digestion, but this has hardly begun.”

Have an opinion on this issue? Email us at finderseaters@outlook.com or tweet us: @finderseaters_

ROUNDUP: 10 Food Friendly Feeds You Should Be Following on Twitter for #foodwaste across London

For all you London foodies looking to save money and chuck away less of your precious grub, being able to find local food-save events and recipe tips at the click of a mouse is an invaluable tool. While researching more about exactly what’s going on in London to combat the food waste issue, I compiled a list of the top 10 twitter feeds showing what’s not to be missed and who exactly to keep an eye on. So here are the important foodie feeds:

1. Food Cycle Pie in the Sky @FoodCycleCafe

This community café in East London is open Monday to Friday and caters city-wide!  It’s no-waste philosophy is reflected in every event, meal and piece of advice its people provide. Dedicated staff at Food Cycle also train volunteers to build up their skills and foodie expertise to transfer into jobs. So whether you’re looking to develop your own skills, or simply chill out with a coffee and a brownie, (delicious by the way, and a steal at £1.50) Pie in the Sky is the place to do it.

2. Love Food Hate Waste @LFHW_UK

This company are all about wasting less and saving US money – what’s not to love?! Love Food Hate Waste are all about the 2 P’s Portion and Planning. Their twitter feed is a daily frenzy of the latest updates about food saving initiatives across the UK, with a hive of activity in London. And of course – it is positively brimming with wholesome, tasty leftover recipe ideas to soothe your soul and belly – not to mention bank balance! So go on, share the love.

3. West London Waste @WestLondonWaste

Attention all West Londoners! Now the fine people at West London Waste really care about their grub! Whether it’s biking their way all day long to 2nd chance smoothies at Richmond May Fair (I went along and, trust me, it’s no mean feat!), celebrating compost giveaway or giving simple advice on how to #saveaspud these people care about food. So we at FindersEaters care about them. Check their twitter for upcoming events and volunteering opportunities.

4. The Rubbish Diet @therubbishdiet

Dubbed ‘the UK’s first slimming club for bins, helping you to halve your waste in just two steps’, The Rubbish Diet are taking the UK, and especially London, by storm, offering public events and top tips that can help you recycle more, save money and be a savvy shopper. You can also sign up to their website to take a two-step email challenge to slim down your bin. Think Weight Watchers but without the choc cravings!

5. The Dinner Exchange East @DinnerexchangeE

#Upcycling #foodwaste has never been easier with this lavish lot! Aiming to generate debate around food waste, they hold events across London offering music, entertainment, and 3-course vegan meals fit for a king. Leftovers never tasted so good! You can book online in advance via the twitter page or check out their website here.

6. Save The Date Café @savethedatecafe

‘London’s first egalitarian eatery’ is located in Dalston. Open until 2.30 most days for lunch, they offer lots of tasty fresh fruit and veg for you to take away on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. You can check out audio from the Save The Date Café Launch here at Finders Eaters, or for more information visit their Facebook page.

7. Plan Zheros @PlanZheros

Based at Kings Cross, Plan Zheros is a charity which links up shops and restaurants which have surplus food to organisations who distribute it to those in need. Their twitter feed is all about sustainable living and leftover recipe demos – so keep a close eye on it for food events near you. Borough Market is a popular venue!

8. Brixton People’s Kitchen @BrixtonPK

Just what it says on the tin! Surplus food for all – and they’ve now built a mobile kitchen on a bike (Yes, you read that right) to hold foodie events in South London.

9. Snact @SnactNow

Founded in Brixton and Hackney Wick, Snact have been ‘taking a bite out of food waste and food poverty’ in and around London. Check out their delicious healthy snacks and where to find them – all made from surplus food!

10. Finders Eaters @finderseaters_

And finally…as the cliché goes – we hate to brag but we think we’re pretty awesome too!

EVENT Love Food Hate Waste @ Richmond May Fair 2015!

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Image Credit: Paul Robertson

Join our live coverage joining @WestLondonWaste on Saturday 9th at The Richmond May Fair 2015! On behalf of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign (@LFHW_UK), the team at West London Waste will be on site providing handy hints and tips to help you make the most of your grub! The team will also be offering the chance to get fit by biking your way to a free fruity fibre juice – using fruit volunteered by the people which would have otherwise been dumped.

Ready…Set…Pulp!!

Finders Eaters Amy Brawn (Me!) getting set to Pedal Pump the way to a delicious 2nd Chance Smoothie from fruit which would have gone to waste…

The Event

I spoke to the lovely people behind it all at the Richmond May Fair – the teams at West London Waste and Love Food Hate Waste arrived at the fair early, working hard to turn one man’s rubbish into another man’s gold!

Cropped Large Garbage

 The Team

Sarah Kersey of The Rubbish Diet ( @RubbishdietWL) and Samantha Gibbons and Roger St Paul of West London Waste (@WestLondonWaste) were the food friendlies in charge!

Cropped Sam Large

Recap:

  • Leftover food from the day was put into boxes and the West London Waste team asked people to take it home for themselves.
  • Sam Gibbons headed up the smoothie-making!
  • The guests got fit, had fun, and were filled to the brim with fibre-filled treats thanks to @WestLondonWaste.
  • It was a lively, light-hearted event with a serious message.
  • Thank you to @WestLondonWaste, @LFHW_UK and @LBRUT for hosting!

Cropped Amy LargeFor more excitement from the day and handy tips like how to make your potatoes last longer – listen to my full interviews with @WestLondonWaste‘s own Samantha Gibbons and Roger St Paul here!

VIDEO: Camden to give birth to ‘food saving cookery classes’!

When a friend told me about plans in motion to start ‘food saving classes’ in Camden, I went to visit 58 year old Julie Todd’s home. Along with lifelong friend Jo Bloomfield (55), Julie is whipping on her apron and heading back to school in order to show the people just what’s what in their food cupboards! Julie has been hosting ‘food-saving’ dinner parties for more than 2 years, and is currently on the hunt for the premises to start a series of fun but educational food classes for anyone who wishes to learn. They plan to have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to food waste, and hope to instil these values into their teaching.

Back To Basics

‘You read an awful lot online about storage advice and different food saving strategies, it can be very confusing for someone who isn’t particularly knowledgeable about food’ Jo says, ‘and the truth is, sometimes it just takes someone experienced to show you the ropes, offering face to face advice and hands-on experience about how to prepare and cook food in a more efficient way. That’s what we’ve been offering our friends and family for the past couple of years, and that’s exactly what we’d like to bring out and share with the public.’

A Class Act: The Ladies Behind It All:

Where Do I Sign Up?!

The pair hope to start the classes in time for Christmas 2015. Hopefully Santa will find Jo and Julie’s no waste fruit pulp cookies (pictured below) as tasty as I did! Keep checking this page for details or tweet us @finderseaters_ for more information.

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INTERVIEW Jenius Social’s Jennifer Yong talks about creating connections through food

Following Finders Eaters interview with restaurant manager Michelle Brittain, we wanted to get the industry response on whether cookery classes and aesthetically appealing ‘food porn’ can make us ruthless in our efforts to impress, throwing out food which is dubbed ‘ugly.’ Who better to talk to than self-professed foodie and cookery class connoisseur Jennifer Yong!

Credit: Jennifer Yong
Credit: Jennifer Yong

Jen’s business – @jeniussocial – embraces the idea of social eating. The Jenius Social team offer not only cookery classes, but supperclubs, tastings, masterclasses and more…

Jenius Social

But are they sustainable foodies? I popped down to Hornsey Street in Islington and visited their venue at Studio 8 to find out… After a tour of the studio and kitchen facilities, which are spacious enough for about 30 people if it’s a hands-on cookery class – Jen sharing her hopes with me that Jenius Social will continue to be a watering hole for foodies who want to share, create and love food together – even without the huge range of classes the team are offering – she showed me around her delectable on-site deli.

“Creating Connections Through Food”

Despite some Jenius Social events bearing names such as ‘Pimp My Profiteroles’ – promising to ‘pimp your presentation skills like never before’ – Jen says that in her business, love of food is never lost to aesthetics. On the contrary, ‘I started up Jenius Social because I wanted to make connections through food, not tear them up at the roots.’ She acknowledges the need for society in general to be less wasteful, and suggests that any venue serving food or hosting events involving food has a responsibility, not only to its customers and the community but to itself and its staff, to minimise unnecessary waste.

The Challenges

‘Obviously it can be very difficult, when holding a cooking class, to judge how much each person taking part will eat, and how to divide the ingredients, ration and ratio it accurately,’ says Jennifer. Luckily for her, her previous job running digital ventures in the financial sector means she has a lot of transferrable skills which, along with her passion for food and socialising, have become the lifeblood of her business which she says she runs with the right combination of passion, fun, proportion and efficiency. In fact, Jen explained during our interview the waste-saving benefits of her cookery classes, and emphasised that Jenius Social and their customers have a genuine love and respect for their food. And that is why they come. Teaching people skills such as the proper way to fillet flat and round fish, and pinboning can be a very cost-effective way to get the most out of the fish and maximise the amount of flesh you retain when filleting, and that’s just one example, she says.

The Rewards

Guiding people how to source quality food in a cost-effective way is another service Jenius Social prides itself on. Knowing your food inside out, living it, breathing it, knowing how to prepare, cook and store it in the right way, is one of the best things you can teach to reduce food waste, Jen suggests. ‘In building this business I wanted to fuse my two favourite things: food and socialising, I realised there was nowhere in London that quite had that greet, eat and meet community vibe that I craved. But with Jenius Social, I hope I’ve created a place where food, passion, sustainability, and of course – community – collide.’

‘As Kevin Costner knows’, her website boasts, “If you build it, they will come.” Aaand if that’s not enough – as well as being food efficient, Jen tells me she is also space waste savvy to encourage her customers to mingle! ‘That’s the reason I designed my venue’ (Jenius Social has just four preparation tables) ‘people have to sit together, people have to work together, and get to know each other.’

Want to hear more? Listen to Jenius Social’s Head Chef Andrew Clements and Jennifer Yong discussing their venture here:

FEATURE Cookery Classes: Do They Spell an Abundance or Abandonment of Food?

Despite what Dr. Seuss might think, we foodies at Finders Eaters know that nobody wants green and eggs and ham for brekkie, but has a culture of increasingly glamorized food, or ‘food porn’ – served up beautifully on the TV by Michelin star chefs – and the prevalence of cocktail and cooking classes offering the skills to ‘wow’ friends at dinner parties – turned us into a bunch of rotten tomatoes where our attitude to food waste is concerned?

Interview with a convert: “The food wasn’t pretty enough”

I spoke to restauranteur and self-professed ‘savvy-saver’ Michelle Brittain, a previous London resident who now runs a successful bar and foodery ‘The Coach House’ (@thecoachy1) in Humberston: Before our interview, Michelle had told me how cookery classes she attended with her partner while living in London had ‘brought them closer to food and each other’ and that she’d always wanted to work in the food industry. “We had an amazing time in the classes at the London Underground Cookery School, as well as L’atelier des Chefs in Oxford Circus” she says, admitting that she herself has considered offering classes a the new establishment.

“I used to hold dinner parties all the time, using family recipes, and fancy skills and techniques I’d learned at the various classes – My friends used to say I was getting so good it was as if I’d been going to food finishing school!’

Michelle: On “discovering my food-friendly”

Explaining when and how her attitude to food began to change: ‘the real turn-around for me’, she says, ‘was when a close friend of mine was looking for a new job in central London, and started volunteering at FoodCycle events around the city to build her skills while she was searching. She asked me to go along one day.’

Having her eyes opened for the first time to a real food waste poverty problem, Michelle said the experience made her feel embarrassed:

“There were people in the City starving and there I was worrying about how wonky my macaroons were! It was…humbling, an eye-opener to say the least.”

Michelle admitted that if she’d made a starter or dessert for a friend that didn’t look right, she’d throw it away and make a new one if it wasn’t ‘pretty enough.’ And in this she’s not alone…

Food Frenzy!

Social media platforms such as Twitter have been inundated with tweets from anti-food waste organisations and communities about the billions of tons of food that is thrown away unnecessarily:

LoveFoodHateWaste (@LFHW_UK) have also been rallying support and raising awareness about the environmental and economic detriment that food waste can cause, providing tips to combat the unnecessary throwing away of food, while saving money:

But just how wasteful is this culture?

Cookery classes boast of teaching an abundance of culinary and presentational skills…but do they really stigmatise and encourage neglect of ‘ugly’ food that is otherwise still ‘fit for purpose’? Michelle says that she previously ‘didn’t think twice’ about throwing away aesthetically inferior foodstuffs if replacing them with fresh ingredients would make for better presentation; and she suggests that in some of the cookery classes she attended that culture of thinking was shared. However, Jennifer Yong, founder of Jenius Social (@JeniusSocial), a vibrant ‘social food hub’ in Islington, disagrees.

You can read (and listen) to Finders Eaters ‘Industry Response’ interview with Jennifer here on our website!