Working with the food industry to minimise food waste and support vulnerable people, over the last year Surplus Supper Club, Fare Share South West’s catering service, have supplied business lunches to ecosurety.
Abigail Warren, a member of our Relationships team, recently spoke with Jacqui Reeves, CEO of Fare Share South West, about the impacts of the work done by the charity.
Where does the food come from that Fare Share South West uses and redistributes?
99% of this food hasn’t gone to a shop yet; we work with the big brand name manufacturers and distributors in the food industry and source the food at the distribution level.
Why would this food otherwise be disposed of if it’s perfectly good?
There are a variety of reasons why surplus food gets wasted. A label being defective (a UPC not scanning or a word being misspelled) would stop an item from ending up on a shelf. Supermarkets won’t take dried goods such as cereal and pasta if there’s less than three months left before it’s out of date, so we would take those items. Often fruit and vegetables that are misshapen or don’t look attractive are discarded on the field, so we work to stop that. All of the food we source is within date and fresh.
How much food do you stop from going to landfill?
In our South West branch alone we redistribute 30-40 tonnes of food a month. To put that into context: one tonne of food is equal to 2,381 meals and saves 0.5 tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere (we did the math - that’s 71,000-95,000 meals a month!).
Since your work relates so much to environmental initiatives, have you been involved in any work done in collaboration with Bristol being the European green capital?
Through green capital we received strategic funding to develop a tool to redistribute surplus food. We were noticing a lot of local producers and sellers had excess food but were struggling to get it to people in need. There wasn’t an infrastructure around facilitating this and that’s how we came up with Food Route Local.
This tool enables these Bristol producers to send a text to one mobile number with what they have an excess of and that message will then go to about 30 organisations who could potentially go pick up the food. It cuts out the middleman and enables them to work directly with an organisation to get this food redistributed and not disposed of.
How can other individuals or organisations get involved in or support the work you do?
As our year being green capital is coming to an end, a lot of businesses are wondering ‘What’s next? What can we do now to support green initiatives?’ Buying our business lunches for events or meetings is a great way to make a difference and get involved in a sustainable cause. We also rely heavily on volunteers. There are only six people employed here and we work with over 100 volunteers throughout the week.
Over half of our volunteers are vulnerable in one way or another (mental health, addiction recovery) and we offer them the support to get on with their lives. The other half are working professionals or students, we encourage anyone to get involved.
To find out more about Fare Share and Surplus Supper Club please click the logos below:
Client services manager
Abigail joined Ecosurety in 2015 and is now Client services manager, ensuring our team provide valuable support to our clients and look for additional value we can add beyond compliance. She graduated in 2014 with a BSc in Environmental Studies from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Her degree is a reflection of her passion for environmental issues, which were evoked while growing up surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of New England.
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