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What is ‘surplus food’?

Surplus food is food which is fit for human consumption, but has no commercial value for the retailer. This food, which may ultimately go to waste, may have become damaged in transit, might be past its ‘best before’ date or might have been over-ordered. It’s still perfectly good food, and we put it to good use.

How much food waste is out there?

In the UK, an estimated 12 million tonnes of food is wasted each year at all levels from plough to plate whilst 4 million people are affected by food poverty. At least 400,000 tonnes of this is thrown away at retail level. At FoodCycle, we’re doing something about this by making use of edible food to create nutritious three-course meals for those who need it.

How do you source your food?

FoodCycle works with supermarkets, small independent grocery shops and markets to source perfectly edible surplus food in a safe and responsible way. We only reclaim fresh fruit and vegetables and we purchase extra ingredients such as dried foods to make our meals as balanced and nutritious as possible.

I have leftover food, can I help?

We can accept fresh produce (e.g. fruit, vegetables and bread) and dried goods (e.g. pasta, lentils and spices). We are unable to accept meat, fish or ready-prepared foods, such as doughnuts, sandwiches or microwave meals. We can only accept left over food from supermarkets. If you’re an individual looking to donate food, contact our friends at Plan Zheroes, Trussell Trust or Olio.

Why don’t you serve meat and fish?

FoodCycle only serves meat-free food. The practical and legal hurdles to obtaining and serving meat and fish are substantial, and we couldn’t access it in the safe and easy way we can fruit and vegetables. More importantly, by serving meat-free food, our meals are accessible to people of all cultures and religions.

How do you know you’re meeting a need?

FoodCycle works in the most deprived communities to support vulnerable groups including older people, homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers, people affected by mental ill health and people on low incomes. All of our projects work with a community partner that addresses an identifiable need within their community and offers local expertise on the problems their community faces. Our monitoring and evaluation ensures all our projects are effective, impactful, and reaching people who are most at need.

What is ‘food poverty’?

Food poverty is the inability to get enough healthy, affordable food. This can be due to lack of income, poor transport to local shops, knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, and the skills to create healthy meals.

Due to this complex mix of factors, people on low incomes have the lowest intakes of fruit and vegetables and are far more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.

Is FoodCycle a food bank?

FoodCycle works in a different way from a food bank: addressing food poverty by providing a hot, nutritious three-course meal rather than items for people to take home. By providing a sit-down meal in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, we work to reduce social isolation – as people who often feel excluded get the chance to mix with others and feel a valued part of their community. Volunteers sit down and eat with guests and have a chat, and meals are served with warmth and dignity

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