Schools and organisations working hard to reduce food waste as child hunger increases.

I live in Bradford. Recently, I was shocked to read a news headline on the front of the local newspaper that “33,000 children are living in poverty and at risk of going hungry”(Telegraph and Argus, 14.12.15.).The report, by public health bosses also states that Bradford has a higher than average number of underweight children and that many children are going to school hungry without breakfast. This is reflected nationally with many children turning up to school hungry. In contrast, in November (Independent, 10.11.15), Marks and Spencer new flagship store were caught on camera throwing away trolley- loads of surplus food. Surely, in this day and age communities can work together to help each other! Could supermarkets not work with schools or homeless centres locally to both tackle food waste and food hunger rather than throw away trolleys of food? (even if it is store policy not to reduce food and sell it cheaper in the first two weeks of opening).I often see numerous people homeless and begging on the streets of Bradford, many displaying signs of malnutrition. Surely, they would appreciate excess food that is destined for the landfill.

So I investigated a little further on the topic of child hunger and food waste and found numerous examples of excellent practice in the UK both in terms of reducing food waste and hunger.

Below are some examples of this practice:

The Real Junk Food Project is a fast growing movement made up of an organic network of pay as you feel cafes. These cafes divert food destined for waste and use it to create delicious and healthy meals. Donations of food are given by various suppliers, by owners of allotments and even by people clearing out their fridges before going on holidays. The food is then cooked into nutritious meals for anyone to purchase. It is a brilliant idea. Read all about it here http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/about/

There is also some great work going on in school settings. Children are eligible for a free school meal if their family income is less than 16k a year and this offers a life line to many families. But what happens during the holidays?

Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds recently opened their school cafe over the Christmas Holidays to help families whose children are entitled to free school meals in term times have access to meals over the holidays. Mr Atkinson, the head teacher at Richmond recently spoke on BBC Breakfast about the fuel for school scheme and the school website shows examples of good practice to reduce hunger among its pupils. It also displays evidence based on the research findings that there is a strong association between breakfast consumption and educational outcomes (Littlecott & Al, 2015 Public Health Nutrition,). Read more at http://www.richmondhillleeds.co.uk/fuel-for-school/

Magic breakfast (http://www.magicbreakfast.com/) a national charities provides nutritious breakfast to over 23,500 children in more than 480 schools. Make lunch (http://www.makelunch.org.uk/) also offer free school meals when there’s no school.

Recently, I set up a “prevent food waste” club to use up leftover ingredients in the school setting.The food is used to make food products and sold to staff one evening a week. The money raised will be donated to charities working to tackle hunger. Read more at https://foodandhealthteacher.com/2015/11/19/prevent-food-waste-club/

According to a recent article in Heralds Scotland, from January 1st 2016 any company or organisation that produces more than 5 Kg of food waste each week will have to recycle items rather than send them to landfill. France also recently passed a law to reduce food waste too. https://foodandhealthteacher.com/2015/12/13/does-the-uk-need-a-food-waste-law-like-france/

Here’s hoping, other countries such as England follow suit soon.

Even pubs are getting in on the action as the sustainability movement in the drinks industry encourages bars to use leftover wine to make sangria and unused citrus juices to make sherbet. http://www.npr.org/tags/141123294/food-waste

Organisations such@ FoodRev are campaigning on Twitter to reduce food waste and @Food_Tank are asking supermarkets to carry ugly foods. @LindsayGrahamUK works hard to raise awareness about food poverty among children.

So the purpose of this blog is to hopefully raise awareness of the great work happening nationally in terms of reducing food waste and food hunger and to encourage schools and other settings to consider setting up such initiatives.

Could your school make links with local supermarkets, farmers, or allotment owners and start an initiative that could tackle both hunger and waste? It’s definitely worth considering. If so, have a click on the links above for some inspiring ideas.

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Feel free to comment or email me at foodandhealthteacher@hotmail.com if you would like to discuss this blog further.

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