Since last September I been one of the project leaders for the Norwich branch of a charity called FoodCycle. Here's the national website - FoodCycle It is a charity with a simple concept that was once an impossibility because of the fear of litigation.
FoodCycle simply organises volunteers to:
1) take fruit, veg, bread and dried foods a supermarket, cafe or shop would otherwise have discarded (because it's slightly past its best),
2) transport it to a community venue via a bicycle with a trailer and
3) cook a meal for anyone to eat. (targeting those in need but not excluding others)
It does this to:
• tackle food waste and more importantly (and effectively) highlight the issue of food waste and what fussy consumers come of us have become.
• tackle food poverty (we only scratch the surface of this currently). I am not sure what we create will ever be really easy for some disadvantaged to access as it's a large hall full of people.
• provide CV fodder for young people
•create a community space each week that everyone and anyone is invited to (that's special!)
• attempt to tackle prejudice towards homeless people (an aim the Norwich branch has added)
Its a simple idea that has instant appeal to most people and that's reflected in the 200 or so in our bank of volunteers and the successful bid for some funding.
It is an absolutely fantastic project to be involved in and today we will be cooking our fifth meal. We usually feed between 70 and 100 people and there's always a wonderful buzz in the place. I am personally surprised by how well it always seems to come together!
Donations of food were slow to come initially. The first contributor was a small food store on St Benedict's street. Then we hit lucky with Brandbank - a company that photographs food for online shopping. They have been wonderful but of course their supply is somewhat erratic and unpredictable. There were also small independent shops bringing food to the venue: namely 'Wholesome' on Swann Lane, Rainbow Wholefoods and 'The Metfield Bakery'. A veg stall (Holland Organics) on Norwich Market also donates a few bits and pieces and the spice stall gives us price reductions. But now we have hit really lucky. This week a fruit and veg wholesaler: McCarthy's will be donating food along with the Budgens store on Prince of Wales Road. We could not be more chuffed! That's a lot of food travelling round Norwich by bike power.
We will eventually have a 'launch.' We have had a lot of media interest and local celebrity chef (not Delia!): Galton Blakiston has offered to attend. I don't suppose Galton wants to be known as 'not Delia' actually!
We also have ambition. We currently only do one meal a week. With careful volunteer management this could increase. Also, the possibility of a community cafe might one day be viable. Watch this space.