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Taste not waste: Meet our cycling food collection heroes

If it wasn’t for our food collection heroes, none of our tasty, community meals could happen. They hit the streets, hop on bikes or jump in cars each week to rescue lots of food that would otherwise go to waste. The food often can’t be sold because it is past it’s best before or sell by date, but is still perfectly safe to eat – and delicious! This week we spoke to Ellen, an amazing Project Leader who joins the team collecting food on bike, rain or shine, in lovely Bristol.

What happens on a food collection?

We start at St Paul’s Learning Centre, where the trailers are stored in a shed (they let us do this for free!) We then do a loop up Gloucester Road, heading to the Co-op  (our long-term partners) and some fruit and veg shops. Next up, we head over the M32 motorway to Easton, dropping off the first round of food after a stop at the amazing Malik’s on Stapleton Road – a treasure trove of a shop that sells everything from tomatoes to tooth brushes!


After dropping the first round of food at Barton Hill Settlement, we head out for the second round of Easton shops – mostly small fruit and veg sellers, but also including the awesome Sweetmart!



How did you get into do the food collections?

When I was a student, I cooked a lot for FoodCycle. I went away for two years after uni, and when I came back to Bristol getting back involved was a priority! However, we were much more in need of cycling volunteers than cooks at that time, so I started getting out on the bike. Soon enough I was involved in leading and organising the collections too.


What do you enjoy about doing it?

It’s great to meet the suppliers and to get some exercise in too! I do miss being in the kitchen, but I love organising all the food when we arrive at Barton Hill, and discussing with the cooking team the kind of things they might make. It’s lush getting to know the volunteers – we have discussions about everything from the obvious (food surplus) to the bizarre – and there’s usually lots of interesting ideas! We have a great project leader team too, and regularly get together to discuss food collection related issues over dinner!


Inspired by Ellen and fancy being a food collection hero in your area? Sign up here!

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