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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GUEST POST: Supermarkets – The price we pay for cosmetic standards

Photography by Cyril Caton

We in the UK have become quite dislocated from how our food is produced and where it comes from – the vast majority of us having no relationship with or knowledge of the people who produce the food we rely on.

With over 80% of the UK’s population living in an urban environment, and 7 of the biggest supermarket chains having an 87% market share of the food we buy, it’s not surprising that that’s the case.

When it comes to the food we eat, we have relinquished much of the decision-making process to corporations whose actions are motivated by profit, and not by the interests of consumer wellbeing or that of the planet. We may be the ones who decide what to buy in the supermarket, but the choice we have is dictated to us by what they stock on their shelves – everything is pre-packed and preselected.

In the name of convenience we have put our trust in supermarkets to do right by us, and so tend to put little thought into the consequences of consuming what we do – rarely questioning how it was produced or where it came from. We don’t tend to concern ourselves with the true cost of buying almonds from California, where a severe drought has been on-going for 4 years; or prawns from Thailand where slave labour is used in the fishing and processing of prawns supplied to European supermarkets.

What is true of imported food is also true of British produce – there are hidden costs associated with buying our fruit and vegetables from supermarkets. They do their best to hide the consequences of their business practices – ensuring we are oblivious to the true cost of having perfectly straight carrots, or apples that are free from blemishes and just the right size. They hide the impact of a system they have engineered, and that we ultimately endorse through our support for them.

The cost of supermarket-imposed cosmetic standards on farmers is huge, and is one of the main reasons for around 30% of food grown on UK farms not making it off the trees or out of the ground.

This in turn means that 30% of all the water, pesticides, transport and other inputs used in farming this food is also wasted. According to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, at a global level approximately 550 billion cubic metres of water is wasted each year in growing crops that never actually reach the consumer.

Wasting food and all that has gone into producing the food is impacting on the major issues of our time – from food security to climate change, not to mention putting the survival of smaller farms at risk, and the health and livelihood of the farmers themselves.

Supermarkets claim that it is we, the consumers, who demand cosmetically perfect fruit and veg. But in a system created and sustained by the supermarkets, to great benefit to themselves, I think it’s more reasonable to assume the practice is driven by a desire to cut costs and maximise profits, rather than a desire to pander to consumer demand.

That said we have been complicit in the creation of this deeply flawed system – by not concerning ourselves with the impact of how our food is being produced. Relinquishing the decision-making process when it comes to the food we eat has come at a great cost to our society and the environment – both nationally and globally, and we must start holding the supermarkets to account – we can ill afford to let things continue on as they are, and despite an awareness within the industry as to the destructive impact wasting food has, things won’t change without us demanding it.

So while we may feel powerless in the face of large, multinational corporations, they are ultimately dependent on us consumers – without us they are nothing.

Collectively we need to push for change in their business practices – to end the imposition of absurd cosmetic standards and demand they sell ‘wonky’ fruit and veg. We need to push them to take all the necessary steps they can towards creating a fairer and more sustainable food system – a system that ultimately doesn’t result in millions of tonnes of edible food being needlessly left to rot every year.

This article was written by Chris King, the founder of ‘Food Is…‘ project.  

Read more about Chris and his project here.

ROUNDUP: Waste Works at the IFE 2015

n March nearly 30,000 attended the IFE, the UK’s largest International Food and Drink Event, in London.

But this year it had a special addition…Waste-Works.

Source: http://www.pro2pac.co.uk/g/2015/logos/ww_header_200.jpg
Source: http://www.pro2pac.co.uk/g/2015/logos/ww_header_200.jpg

New for 2015, the Waste-Works exhibition had an exciting line-up of leading technology company and services providers who are finding new ways to tackle waste, improve efficiencies and save money.

The event is unique in the UK and the first to all cover the full circle from farm to fork to fertiliser.

Talk and seminars took place throughout the event at ‘Waste-Works Live’ showcasing the work of companies and organisations  including FoodSave, an initiative to help London businesses save on food and money. Read our article to find out more about their work.

by Hollie Goodall

Finders Eaters was there to bring you the highlights….

Audio and video editing by Hollie Goodall

Photography by Su-Min Hwang

Click here to find out more about Waste Works and register for next year.

Waste-Works took place alongside IFE, the UK’s largest food & drink event and Pro2Pac, the UK’s only food & drink packaging event.

Over the course of four days, it saw an audience of over 30,000.

Area of focus included waste management/minimisation, waste storage/collection, reprocessors & recycling and renewable energy.

by Su-Min Hwang

Watch another version the audio slide show, giving the overview of the event:

Edited by Su-Min Hwang

GUEST POST: Recipe for homemade lip scrub

Mary is a hip, chic blogger rocking the zero-waste lifestyle.  She writes about everything from fashion, make up, eco-lunches and plastic-free living. I fell in love with her recent post on making foundation out of arrowroot powder, and have asked her to create another recipe for our readers.

Here is how to make a lip scrub just using homemade beet root powder and shea butter:

Photo by Gittemarie Johansen

1. Dry the beet root, either in the oven (lowest heat for 6 hours) or in the sun (5 days)

2. Blend the beetroot.

3. Add soft or melted shea butter and mix it in a container (The recycled container I used, once was a solid perfume that I emptied)

That’s it!

For her tips on upcycling, watch her video here:

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.

image
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!