London’s first organisation focused on the “last mile” of food rescue is celebrating an important milestone. City Harvest, which collects surplus from food businesses, delivered its 400th tonne of food to community programmes that feed London’s people in need including the homeless, individuals and families in transition, women in crises, refugees, children and the elderly.
City Harvest works with more than 120 local companies but has identified more than 700 organisations in London that could use surplus food to help those in need and encourages all food businesses with unsold, in-date, ambient, chilled or frozen food to donate.
City Harvest’s head of logistics, Paula Merrony, who experienced homelessness as a young mother said, “As we approach summer when thousands of school children are not receiving school meals, the City Harvest deliveries made to local family programmes are even more important.”
Londoners in need benefited from more than 1 million meals delivered by London non-profit City Harvest as it helps alleviates hunger with the help of food businesses.
Food waste and food poverty are two of the biggest issues facing society. In London and the rest of the UK, more than 25% of the population face food insecurity. “As Londoners spend more on things like rent and utilities”, in the words of City Harvest’s CEO, Laura Winningham, “a lot of people who are working don’t have enough money to provide three meals a day for their families. It is no longer just the homeless who are seeking food donations”. Meanwhile, 3 million tonnes of nutritious surplus food from manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and the hospitality industry is sent to landfill.
Food donors, including supermarkets, manufacturers, and restaurants, that work with City Harvest benefit from regular pickups with a temperature controlled fleet, reliable drivers, swift distribution of short shelf life products and critical understanding of health and safety.
Donors can meet their social responsibility goals by reducing waste and diverting food to those who need it most near to their businesses. Donors include M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Charlie Bigham’s, Nando’s, GBK, New Covent Garden Market as well as many small start-up food businesses, caterers, development kitchens, trade fairs, cooking schools and food photo shoots. Last week City Harvest moved into a new 3,000 square foot warehouse in Acton, which will make it even easier for food businesses to get food to where it is most needed.
“It is astounding how far City Harvest has come in the last 3 years”, said Winningham. “We realised there was a need for a service like this in London that would enable food businesses to deliver fresh and perishable food safely and reliably to those in need, but had no idea how fast we would grow. Our success in tackling food waste and poverty is directly related to the impassioned and empathetic team of drivers we employ who have themselves experienced food poverty.”
Reaching this milestone means that local community organisations throughout London were able to serve more than 1 million meals made from food that would otherwise have gone to waste or worse still landfill sites. Local programs receiving this free healthy surplus food have seen their annual food budgets fall by more than £1 million to date, funds they can spend on other vital services. Without this supply of nutritious food, many believe they would struggle or close.