FoodCycle: Using surplus food for good

In the blog below, Anwen Bowers of FoodCycle Bristol gives an overview of the amazing work they do transforming surplus food into huge benefits for the environment, people and communities.

Big change can only happen when everyone works together. At FoodCycle, we are delighted that Going for Gold is uniting individuals and organisations across Bristol to take action and improve food sustainability. Going for Gold is promoting six clearly defined action areas – and we were thrilled to find out that what we do at ticks off at least four of them! So how does the Going for Gold action plan overlap with what we get up to?

Stop waste

We’re big believers in making the most of what’s already available. We work closely with local businesses throughout Bristol to rescue surplus food before it disappears onto the alarmingly large pile of food that is wasted in the UK each year (1.9 million tonnes!). You probably don’t need us to tell you that all that waste comes with a significant carbon footprint. Our food collection volunteers collect surplus food from local shops by bike, complete with branded trailers, twice a week. The Saturday collection brings food back to Barton Hill Settlement, where it is cooked and served as a free meal for the community. The Monday collection is delivered to Borderlands, where it helps to feed asylum seekers and refugees and to Kensington Baptist Church.

Food community

There aren’t many problems that don’t seem more manageable after a cup of tea (and a biscuit!) with friends. Bringing the community together around nourishing meals is at FoodCycle’s core. With stories of the negative health impact of loneliness appearing ever more frequently on national news, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to come together to beat this epidemic. Every Saturday, guests are welcomed to Barton Hill Settlement to share food that has been collected, cooked and served by our team of outstanding volunteers. We were really pleased to find in our 2019 impact report that 79% of our guests nationwide felt more part of the community after attending FoodCycle meals.

Cook fresh

Each week at FoodCycle is a bit like an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook. Our volunteers start the session with a motley mix of fruit and vegetables, and by the time they’ve worked their magic the food has been transformed into a three-course feast. We cook a lot of stews, curries and stir fries. Our recipes are simple, healthy, and a great way to use up any assortment of veg before their freshness goes past the point of no return.

Food equality

Falling incomes and rising food prices mean that food is now less affordable. Our projects are based in some of the most deprived communities in the country and support people living with hunger and food poverty. Across England, we serve over 1,500 guests a week (usually 30-50 in Bristol) and also give out reusable boxes filled with food for guests to take away. Any food that isn’t cooked is available for guests to take and prepare themselves. The fact that food is going to waste whilst people are going hungry makes absolutely no sense to us, and is something that FoodCycle is working hard to change.

If you like the sound of what we do there’s loads of ways you can get involved. Whether it’s taking to the streets as a food collection volunteer, transforming surplus food as a cooking volunteer or offering a welcoming smile as a hosting volunteer, there’s plenty of opportunities to take action and help Bristol Go for Gold! Find out more using the links above, or check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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