Are food waste charities the way forward?

Pret A Manger in Leeds City Centre

By India Rose

After MPs rejected a plan to extend free school meals for children across the U.K over the holidays, many have found themselves struggling to keep little bellies full. 

Food waste has been a problem internationally for generations. In 2007, the U.K. government decided that it was finally time to start making some changes.

The goal, is to have halved our food waste by 2030, but is this realistic? 

Statistics from the WRAP show that 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, with 70% of this being intended to be consumed.

In the U.K the average family throws away roughly 22% of their weekly shop, this amounts to £730 worth of food being thrown away without cause per year; just from our homes alone. 

Globally this causes a number of problems, both morally and environmentally.

Roughly 800 million people go starving each year, and this could be easily solved.

According to the food waste charity Olio, the U.K, Europe and U.S.A could feed those left hungry with only one quarter of their food waste put together annually. 

If we continue to go on as we do, this could end up with catastrophic effects on our planet.

Olio stated that with the food we produce now, you need a crop of land the size of China to grow everything we have.

But this land does not come empty, we are wiping plants and animal species from the face of the planet, moving indigenous populations and pushing on deforestation to produce food that we aren’t even going to consume.

According to WRAP, 25% of the water used to grow food, ends up uneaten.

When we get rid of food that we have not consumed, it is left to decompose with no oxygen, this causes it to produce methane which is a large percentage deadlier than carbon dioxide is to both humans and our planet. 

Faye Sherratt, volunteer’s for the food waste charity Olio in Leeds city centre. Olio is an app available for anyone to download in the U.K, Europe and U.S.A. 

It works due to a number of volunteers opting to collect unwanted food at the end of the day from cafés and restaurants. 

Members of the public can also list free items on the app for others to come and collect if they have anything they no longer want.

“I’m a bit of an environmentalist, I hate any kind of food waste. I heard about Olio, through someone that I knew, they told me there was lots of food going that you could volunteer for”, said Faye.

Faye believes that “a massive part of sustainability that goes unnoticed is food waste” and that “the biggest impact here will be the environment”. 

She currently collects food from internationally known café, Pret A Manger. 

“Sometimes when I go to Pret, I can’t take all of it because there is just so much”, she says. 

“Big supermarket chains are known to throw away their entire bakery section at the end of the day, yet due to alleged ‘health and safety reasons’ will not allow it to be given away for human consumption”. 

Faye believes that the charity Olio is “great for society in terms of a bit of free food for those who need it”. 

She continues, “there is a woman who comes and collects from me and gives it to the family next door to her”. 

Leeds student Isobel Bates said that Olio is a “great app” and that it means she has got “something to eat for lunch” and that she “gets to try stuff from Pret A Manger which I usually couldn’t afford”. 

She also believes that it is “great for cutting down waste” and “connecting neighbours near-by and bringing people together”. 

By the year 2030, the U.K are expected to cut down their food waste by 50%, and with charities such as Olio, it may just be possible. 

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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