Tackling the complex relationship between wasted food and poverty


In the eleven months since its launch, a Chichester not-for-profit organisation has delivered over 100,000 meals to people in desperate need.

In so doing, it is helping tackle food waste, as well as rural and coastal food insecurity and food poverty.

UKHarvest collects high quality, nutritious rescued food from farms, supermarkets, shops and restaurants. The food is then delivered free of charge to charities which work with the most disadvantaged in our society, freeing them to use funding to provide services rather than food.

Since its launch last March, UKHarvest has set up 57 projects, supported by 44 donors - of whom 25 are regular - and six partnerships or collaborations. It has also recruited 73 volunteers.

Delivering 10,473 meals a week, it has already reached 2,297 vulnerable people at organisations such as Stonepillow and Emmaus Hampshire, among others.

UKHarvest chief executive officer Yvonne Thomson is driven to end food waste and, in so doing, achieve her dream of eradicating homelessness.

Yvonne said education is the answer to ending food waste across all of the supply chain, from growers to consumers.

As such, UKHarvest’s education programmes teach life skills and deliver training on nutrition.

They encourage some of the most vulnerable people in our society to make healthier choices whilst providing work placements and, in turn, jobs.

Yvonne said: “Sadly, we have been so successful as we have found a gap in the market.

“We want to break the homelessness cycle and now support 57 local charities.

“Our ultimate aim is to work ourselves out of a job.”

Yvonne said 8.5 million people in the UK do not have enough food to eat on a day-to-day basis.

“In contrast, as consumers, on average families throw out one in four bags of shopping, which equates to around £470 per year in wasted food. Environmentally, we cannot cope with this, as it goes to landfill.”

Yvonne said, while much of the UK’s food redistribution work is done in inner cities, areas such as Chichester have a high cost of living, alongside low salaries and the majority of work opportunities within the public realm.

She said: “Food insecurity is a real issue, as is access to good food. Opportunities to help local people make the most of their income and discover nutritious ways to eat well or less are a priority for us.”

To find out more or get involved, visit www.ukharvest.org.uk

Food education for all

Not-for-profit food rescue organisation UKHarvest has already made a significant impact on people’s lives.

A spokesperson for homeless charity Emmaus Hampshire said: “Through [their]support, we have saved at least £50 a week on food, meaning we have been able to put more into our services for homeless people in Hampshire. We have been able to provide more healthy living items to our beneficiaries’ diets through nutritious meals every day.”
The Bognor Housing Trust said its food donations provide much-needed provisions for single homeless people living in temporary accommodation, who often find themselves with no money and ‘the vegetables help people try things they may never have tried before’.

New projects include a collaboration with The Regis School to enhance modules on food sustainability, food waste reduction and economical cooking.

Introduced in October 2017, workshops have already reached 142 students and young people. Year 11 student Nicole Bergmann said: “It was a really good experience as we got to see and learn about the amount of food that is thrown away and wasted every day. We feel more knowledgeable about the types of food we can make from things that we may have been prepared to throw away. Working with a chef and to a specific time-frame for serving the food was a great experience, as it felt like we were in a real working kitchen”.

UKHarvest chief executive officer Yvonne Thomson is determined to take things further, from beginning a school holiday hunger campaign and combating local malnutrition and obesity to extending UKHarvest’s education programmes ‘wherever they are needed and to whoever needs them’.

She said the enterprise urgently needs funds to develop. A particular goal is to find a ‘democratic social space’: “We are very fortunate to currently be hosted by Stonepillow, but we need somewhere to operate from that will allow us to work with people on an individual and group basis.

“We desperately need to raise capital funds to allow us to move into our own premises. If anyone has a barn they would like to donate to us for a few years, we would not only be grateful but this lifeline would allow us to grow and support even more people in need.”

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