There has been a welcome move in recent years to combat food waste, and to make sure any leftovers go to feed bellies, not bins. This is something we are fully behind at the Active Wellbeing Society, we use surplus food in our cafes and our outreach food truck, and we also coordinate the Food Justice Network. A group of nearly 300 projects across Birmingham supporting those in need and campaigning to end food poverty, inequality and injustices. However, recently, surplus food has been harder to come by, and so we are looking for new ways to strengthen our supply.
Surplus food isn’t simply leftovers, it’s food that’s surplus to requirement, near its use by date, or has reached its best before date and would otherwise be thrown out. Simply put, food that is safe to eat but could be wasted. We know there is more out there, and we want to find it, so we can cook it, or share it and redistribute it to those who can benefit from it. To put it into context, in one week in March 14,000 people were fed by just 131 of the Food Justice Network projects. Birmingham is becoming known as a food city, with a thriving street food scene, new independent restaurants, and the most Michelin stars outside of London, but sadly, food insecurity is a massive issue here too.
The amount of surplus available has dropped off for a number of reasons. Supply chain and cost issues mean supermarkets are being much more conservative about their ordering, and there is simply less left over. In addition, the monetisation of waste food, through apps and other avenues, has meant some food that would be given to charities and outreach groups is being taken out of the system. Because of all these factors we’re now appealing directly to businesses to see if they are able to offer us anything we can make use of.
Vicky Hemming, Head of Food at the Active Wellbeing Society said: “Food businesses are under a lot of pressure and finding a good home for surplus food when it does arise can be just another headache. One phone call to us and we can arrange for it to be redirected to a food provision that will make good use of it”.
We understand all businesses are trying to minimise waste, but also that some is inevitable. We have an official distribution network, so please email [email protected] if you can help.