Today is Stop Food Waste Day, the chance to shine a light on an important part of the Good Shepherd’s food service which aims to ensures that nothing ever goes to waste.
For the first quarter of 2023, the Good Shepherd served 6,006 meals to 592 individuals, and welcomed 867 visits to the Family Food Pantry by 168 different families.
On one day last week, 181 people visited the food service, as numbers increase due to the cost-of-living crisis.
The food served arrives from many different sources including Good Shepherd funds, trusts and grants and donations of both food and money from people within the community.
But what is also vitally important is the use of surplus donated by food distributors including Fareshare, Neighbourly – who provide surplus from supermarkets and restaurants – and organisations such as Wolves Foundation via their Feed Our Pack and Holiday Activity Camp delivery.
“We are so grateful and appreciative for all the donations we receive from the local community, both from individuals, faith groups and local businesses,” explains Business & Finance Manager Helen Holloway.
“All the donations of food or fundraising go directly into our food service and are continuing to help us meet what is a growing demand both for the meals we produce, and the food distributed to families.
“Linking up with food distributors is also a vital part of what we do, and we are fortunate to work closely with different organisations including restaurants and supermarkets who donate excess stock or stock which they are unable to use before it goes out of date.
“We have two fantastic volunteer drivers in Brother Charles and Paul (Guy) who make daily trips to pick up surplus food, and are also really fortunate to have such a good network of supporters who will contact us when they have items to donate.
“A lot of the food surplus we receive is actually fresh – vegetables like potatoes and carrots which are still perfectly good and useable and produce like chillies, mushrooms and garlic which can give our meals a really nice flavour.
“All this means we are able to improve the nutritional value of the food which goes into our meals for the people we support.”
The Good Shepherd now weigh all the surplus food they receive to keep track on what is received from supermarkets and partner agencies.
During the first three months of 2023, 5.25 tonnes of surplus was used by the Good Shepherd, and it is expected that over the year somewhere between 20 and 25 tonnes will be received in total.
“When the surplus food comes in, we make a decision as to what it is going to be used for, whether that’s in a meal, distributed to individuals or chopped up and frozen to be used at a later date,” adds Helen, who organised a fundraising sale last year of cakes made up entirely of food waste.
“Our Head Cook Lou (Louise Hand) has a really good approach to using what comes in as part of a wholesome and nutritional meal.
“Not only does this mean we are reducing the amount of food which goes to landfill, but it also ensures we can make the most of every donation we receive from the public and stretch our fundraising for maximum impact.”
In addition to the food surplus used by the Good Shepherd, anything which isn’t considered fit for human consumption is distributed to a local animal sanctuary which they can then pass on to organisations such as pig farms.
This procedure follows the guidance set up by WRAP (the Waste and Action Resources Programme) in terms of identifying, segregating and diverting suitable food to animal feed in line with relevant legislation.
- Stop Food Waste Day is the largest single day of action in the fight against food waste, having been started in 2017 by Compass Group USA but now being recognised globally. According to the World Food Programme, one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. The mission of Stop Food Waste Day is to bring about change regarding this issue by engaging with society at all levels to share creative and practical ways people can change their behaviour to minimise food waste.