Volunteering in the surplus food space

It is estimated that globally, we waste one third of all food produced across the world and yet there are millions of people struggling to afford a meal. There are many organisations out there who are making use of the excessive quantity of surplus food and are providing hot meals for anyone in need

Ever since posting about FoodCycle I've received lots of questions about how people can get involved. Here is a list of volunteering opportunities in the world of food waste & cooking in local communities. 

It's not all soups and stews - plantain chips, wontons, meringue brownies, pasta bake, noodles, strawberry cake & surplus food

FoodCycle

FoodCycle's mission is to reduce food waste and combat social isolation by providing weekly cooked meals in local communities. There are now 38 hubs across the UK so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The sign up is very simple, sign up online, watch a video on food hygiene and safety, complete quiz about this and you're done. You can now go and volunteer at any of the FC hubs.

The sessions are split up into different roles - hosting and cooking. The cooking starts with a pick up at a local grocers or supermarket. You will be collecting surplus food that these stores can no longer sell but are still safe to eat. From here you travel to the hub where you will be cooking and serving the food. There is about 2 hours to turn around this random assortment of fruits and vegetables into a three-course meal. You will decide on what to cook and then start cooking! Food is served to anyone. There are no barriers to accessing a meal at FoodCycle. Anyone who comes in is served a meal, no questions asked. There's some brilliant but shocking statistics that FC share in their yearly impact report. Here are just a few: in 2017, FC saved nearly 100 million tonnes of surplus food, volunteers donated 55,000 hours of their time and  x number of hours. Social isolation has a huge affect on everyday mental and physical wellbeing, FC is just one solution to this, with a 78% return rate, guests and volunteers alike have the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal together. 

Get involved here.

I also wanted to share some other fantastic projects around the UK. I'm not able to give first hand experience but I've heard great things from others. Please let me know in the comments if you have anything to add!

LONDON

City Harvest- multiple volunteer roles available including sorting food donations, deliveries plus photography, marketing, social media and so many more

FEAST!  cooking from surplus food in Islington and Kilburn

The Felix Project - collects surplus and redistribute it to different charities, they need packers, drivers and cyclists/walkers 

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
 

The Junk Food Project - a network of 'pay as you feel' cafes across the UK. They need volunteers to cook and host guests at their meals. The projects are run separately so there's likely different roles in different areas

Fareshare - apply to pick/pack or deliver surplus food to local charities in your area

Olio - volunteer to become a Food Waste Hero. Collect surplus food from your local cafes and restaurants and redistribute to people who can use it

The People's Kitchen in Newcastle offers a huge range of services including transforming surplus food into daily meals for the local community

Brighton & Hove Food Project - a directory of local projects

 

Look out for future blog posts about ideas for cooking with surplus food and leftovers, alternative places to shop and more thoughts on sustainability and environmental impact of the food industry.