20th September 2016: The Evening Standard has today launched ‘Food for London’, a campaign designed to tackle wasted food and food poverty by redistributing surplus fresh food from UK food producers to people in need.
The campaign follows an extensive investigation carried out by the Evening Standard, which exposed the appalling amount of waste from UK supermarkets. As a nation, the UK throws away a staggering 10 million tonnes of fresh produce every year – enough to fill ten Wembley Stadiums – yet an estimated 400,000 Londoners suffer from severe food poverty. By harnessing London’s food surplus to tackle this serious issue, Food for London will help transform an environmental problem into a social solution.
The Standard’s investigation revealed that an alarming 97% of surplus food from supermarkets that is perfectly healthy for human consumption is currently being sent for animal feed or to anaerobic digestion – a ‘mechanical gut’ where it gets turned into gas-powered energy or fertiliser – instead of being donated to charities.
The Evening Standard is determined to expose this scandal and begin to put this right and is teaming up with its flagship charity – The Felix Project – which collects surplus produce from food suppliers and delivers it at no cost to charities. Founded by Evening Standard chairman Justin Byam Shaw and his wife Jane in memory of their teenage son Felix whose life was tragically cut short in 2014, The Felix Project was set up to help others so that their son’s compassion and kindness could live on. The charity already supplies 23 charities, bringing fresh food to over 500 struggling Londoners every week.
The Evening Standard has pulled together an initial £100,000 package backed by £50,000 from the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund and matched by £50,000 from The Felix Byam Shaw Foundation, which has pledged to match all funds raised by the campaign for The Felix Project pound for pound with up to £750,000. This money will go towards expanding the fleet of vans transporting the food to charities, recruiting more employees and achieving the overall aim of getting more, much needed food from supermarkets to charities.
Sarah Sands, editor of the Evening Standard, said: “It’s an incredibly ambitious and exciting challenge in the tradition of this paper’s pioneering campaigning journalism for social change. The attitude of some top supermarkets has hugely improved over the past 18 months, but there is still a long way to go. This campaign will help recruit more suppliers to redistribute food to yet more charities, making a huge difference to hungry Londoners.”
Justin Byam Shaw said: “The idea of using surplus food, which would otherwise end up in anaerobic digestion or landfill, to tackle food poverty is such an obvious solution to two problems. Felix cared about the latter and would have quickly come to see the absurdity of the former. Felix is never out of my thoughts and our loss has made us determined to make sense of something so senseless by doing something good.”