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Raising awareness about food waste & food poverty at Christmas

On Friday 6th December 2019, I was invited by Christie Garratt, the Regional Press and PR Officer at FareShare to share a spotlight on the amazing work they and Honest Crust do. I took part in the #READYSTEADYCHRISTMAS workshop they had organised in Leicester (at E2 Community Hub) where the chefs and volunteers of all ages set out to create a delicious and wholesome 3 course meal using surplus food that would have been thrown away. The event was created to raise awareness of the food waste problem in the UK, particularly at Christmas time and how these charities help to prevent good food going to landfill.

Food waste

In the UK alone, it is estimated that 2.25 million TONNES of perfectly good food goes to waste within the supply chain each year in the UK. What’s even more painful is that over 8 million people in the UK struggle to afford to eat – this food that is being thrown away could be used to feed those in need.

Worldwide, the UN estimates that about a 1/3 of all food produced every year goes to waste – this is approx. 1.3 billion TONNES. If food waste was a country it would be the 3rd biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US. Now, that is embarrassing.

Food waste is a very real problem for the environment and worldwide poverty. Many people feel that they cannot make much change to the world as it is up to big companies to lead the way and make the choices available to us more sustainable. However, food waste is a problem that individuals need to be accountable for – since domestic households are the biggest contributor of food waste in the UK – wasting approx 50% of the food we buy.

Every year in the UK, the equivalent of 4 MILLION Christmas dinners are wasted. FareShare and Honest Crust believe no good food should go to waste, which is why they decided to work together to develop recipes to make the most of leftovers and educate locals on how they can make food go further at Christmas.

Food poverty

Sadly, 1 in 8 people go hungry in the UK, this is approx. 8.4M people (and here is 65M people in the UK). This means they are compromising on the variety and quantity of food, reducing quantities or skipping meals or experiencing hunger.

According to UNICEF 2017, 1 in 5 children grew up in a household where food was scarce.

Who are FareShare?

They are said to be the longest running charity to work with the food industry to divert over 20,000 tonnes of surplus food to people in need, via their network of 11,000 charities and community groups nationwide, who then distribute it to people in need, such as those on a low income or those who are homeless.

Last year, they redistributed enough food to provide 46.5 MILLION meals for people at risk of hunger, loneliness and isolation. I am surprised not more people know about the amazing work this charity does.

FareShare are making a big impact, but sadly there is still clearly a lot more awareness that needs be done as they have only been able to access and redistribute around 1% of the total edible food that goes to waste in the UK every year.

FareShare is crucial for the operation of the charity network it serves. According to a recent survey they found that:

  • 1 in 5 charities would have to close if they no longer received access to FareShare food
  • 58% charities say they may need to reduce the amount of food they provide food bank users due to accessing low amounts of food
  • 71% of food bank users accessing FareShare meals say that getting food provided by FareShare helped them pay rent and other essential bill
  • 53% of food bank users accessing FareShare meals say their physical health has improve
  • 46% of food bank users accessing FareShare meals have gone without a proper meal in the last month
  • 82% of food bank users accessing FareShare meals say eating meals at their local charity helps them to feel a part of the community

Who are Honest Crust?

It took me a while to get my head around who Honest Crust are, but essentially they are a for profit food business that also makes a difference by raising awareness of food waste and food poverty. You will find their meals available in hospitals, students unions, small convenience stores (such as Londis).

Instead of using old or going out of date food, they create fresh hand prepared sandwiches, subs, salads and more for people with a variety of diets, including gluten free, veggie, vegan, and no mayo. They believe that everyone deserves to eat well and that as a food business they have a responsibility to help make that happen.

They see food as a gateway to improve vulnerable people’s lives. They are encouraging consumers to be more conscious of the food they buy, to cook more, to donate and volunteer with FareShare.

By partnering with FareShare they have been able to fund the equivalent of 200, 000 meals for people who need it most. During the summer they also donated 15, 000 sandwiches to FareShare which were diverted to projects that help to feed children at risk of hunger during the summer holidays.

What I find really cool is that they have launched their first sandwich line that has ZERO plastic packaging. Instead of using plastic in their sandwiches and wrap boxes, they use cellulose, a great alternative that has similar properties to plastic but without the detrimental effects on the environment and wildlife. Through opting for a plastic free alternative in their food packaging they have now saved 2.75 TONNES of plastic waste (and counting). Also any food they don’t sell, they donate to make pet food or use to smoke renewable energy, so there is no waste and everything is used. Circular economy heaven.

A couple of the plastic free packaged sandwiches available by Honest Crust (they were snapped up fast by the other people at the event).

Who are E2?

I had the pleasure of speaking to Renee who is the Strike Out Co-ordinator (what a cool job name btw) at the E2 Community Hub at the Beaumont Lodge Neighbourhood Centre where the event took place. Renee is passionate about helping the young people (15 year olds) that have lost their place in mainstream schools (I love that they support young people who are often left out of society) to gain a Level 1 Qualification in Hospitality and Catering. E2 receives food from FareShare and the young people use that food to create delicious wholesome meals for local food bank users.

What happened at the #READYSTEADYCHRISTMAS event?

Community feels

I got to meet a variety of people from FareShare, Honest Crust, the Chefs, young people and local people that helped to make the meals, fellow bloggers (shout out to Letara and Laura), funny freelance photographer Jamie Gray, and BBC Radio Leicester host Ben Jackson (who mentioned he would like to interview me at some point – UPDATE, he did and you can click HERE to hear me on da radio between 1:40:36 -1:48:01).

I will admit I was a little anxious when I arrived (mental health honesty) but I soon felt better the more people I was introduced to (I felt like a celebrity). It was a nice feeling and great to be eating in the company of like minded people who also hate food waste and want to prevent food poverty.

FREE 3 Course Meal

To mine and my mums delight we found out we would be enjoying a 3 course meal at the event all made with food that would have been chucked away if not rescued by FareShare from the food industry. The meals were carefully prepared by local chefs and teens that have lost their place in mainstream school.


Squash and other leftover vegetables soup with croutons and mixed seeds

This was so delicious and I was NOT expecting food that almost ended up in the bin to taste this good man! If this had been served at a restaurant I would have told the waiter/ess to please pass on compliments to the chef. I would have been happy to pay £6 (and I don’t like spending a lot on food) for this soup it was that delicious. The croutons were the best croutons I have ever had the pleasure of eating and had just the right amount of salt. Also the mixed seeds were a great addition and helped me get more omega 3s and 6s (great nutrition).

It was very moreish so I had to resist the urge to ask for seconds (in the aid of preventing food waste of course) until the end when I could see they still had quite a lot left. They put two bowls worth of soup in some containers for us.


Turkey or Leek & Potato

There was two choices for main. My mum opted for the turkey main and I went for the vegetarian option (as I’m pescatarian if you didn’t know) of leak and potato that had a little kick to it. It was enjoyable, particularly the seasoned boiled baby potatoes, but I probably wouldn’t have it again mainly due to the fact I can’t handle even the smallest amount of heat (spice) and the leek was slightly too undercooked for my liking (I’m a very fussy eater and like my veg cooked very soft, but each to their own). I still ate all of mine, as I don’t like to waste food. Obz.

My mum thoroughly enjoyed hers though and wanted more (I get my cheekiness from her – thanks mum). She even had a taste of mine and liked it too. Fair to say my mum was having a whale of a time with eating delicious 3 course meal for free as my plus one to the event.



For dessert we had an indulgent tiffin which made the most of leftover cereals, fruit, nuts and seeds as well as a touch of chocolate. It shouldn’t of worked, but the tiffin with its millions of ingredients actually didn’t disappoint. However, having said that, I probably wouldn’t eat it again given the choice and didn’t accept seconds when asked if I would like some more.

The tiffin was very rich and all of the people around me at the table were commenting on how we ‘really shouldn’t eat it’ due to the very probable high calorie content of the dessert. It’s fair to say I used the excuse of not wasting food to convince the ones watching their waist to finish their tiffin slice, including both myself and my mum.

Overall, it was a pleasure to be invited to the event. I learnt a lot of facts about food waste and food poverty. It just shows that there is always more knowledge out there. I also had a great time with my mum and it was fun to crack up the people adjacent to us. The free food was amazing – freebies always feel good.

I am left still dreaming about the soup I had and wishing I had taken some of the tubs home with me instead of my mum (who actually gave them to an old couple she knows that struggle to look after themselves and get good nutrition which was a good shout on her part). Big up to the #selfless mummas out there.

How can you make a difference?

Feeling inspired by what you have read and want to make a difference to your local community and do your bit for the environment?

There are a couple of ways you can help: volunteering, donating and sharing the message (sharing this post would be a good place to start). More details below:

Want to Volunteer?

Here are some of the jobs you can do as a volunteer with FareShare:

For more information on how to get involved, click HERE.

Prefer to Donate?

If you don’t have the time to volunteer or do not think it is your cup of tea, you can donate to make a difference HERE. Donations help to afford to keep chillers running, lease of building, keep vans running, pay courier to pick up food, van insurance etc.

25p donation = 1 meal for someone in need

£2 donation = 1 Christmas meal with all the trimmings for someone in need

£100 donation = 3 vans to deliver food to 18 charities

£500 donation = 250 people in need getting a Christmas dinner

Are you a food businesses wanting to be part of the solution?

You can check out FareShare’s £3M Surplus with Purpose Fund, that redistributes businesses surplus food to charities cost-neutral. Apply for funding to help you divert your surplus food from landfill to people’s plates. Available for a limited time only – click HERE for more info.

Do you need access to these meals yourself?

If you are homeless or on a low income, such as on benefits you can do your bit for the environment and your own nutrition by saving perfectly good food from going to landfill from these local charities in Leicester:

Perfectly Edible UK

Fridays 11am – 2pm, give a donation to the box (this helps them to pay for the venue to offer this service and buy more food to make their meals more nutritious). At the same time they also run a cafe serving 3 course meals and a drink for £3.50. Not bad eyy.

The West End Neighbourhood Centre, Andrewes St, Leicester LE3 5PA

E2 Community Hub

Beaumont Lodge Neighbourhood Centre, 250 Astill Lodge Road, LE4 1EF

E2 Community Hub

Fridays 11am – 2pm

2-4 Home Farm Square, Leicester LE4 0RU


Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share with people you know to raise awareness of the food waste problem and what we can do to be a part of the solution, and at the same time help people in need.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on this topic and Please share any tips on how you reduce your food waste. Thank you in advance.

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  1. Avatar

    Really interesting blog…I have always hated throwing away food and wondered how large organisations could help others with food that is left over.

    1. Robyn Elms

      Hey thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree, this was a very enlightening experience for me. I only wish more people could have experienced it. Hopefully they will put on a similar experience next year x