Local Heroes is our series where we expand the people, small businesses and neighborhoods that make London a great city, and now it’s the turn of FoodCycle, a charity that turns surplus food into nutritious meals for families. low-income, those affected by homelessness, and those who cannot afford to buy food, combating food poverty, food waste and social isolation. It was founded in 2009 and “since that first pot of nutritious vegetarian food over 10 years ago, we have saved over 900 tonnes of surplus food, the equivalent of over 2.1 million meals. Says Mary McGrath, CEO of FoodCycle.
In “normal” times, FoodCycle runs projects across the country where volunteers collect surplus food, cook it and then sit down with guests to eat, but the pandemic has forced operations to change. “Due to the coronavirus outbreak and government guidelines on social distancing, the first part of 2020 has been spent quickly adjusting to food parcel delivery and ultimately providing our current cooking and cooking service. take-out collection that gives our customers access to hot and nutritious vegetarian meals. every week, ”says Mary. “To help tackle what we see as a growing problem of social isolation and loneliness made worse by this pandemic, we also launched our registration and chat service in April 2020, where our fantastic volunteers are calling guests to a weekly party. ”
Although navigating the pandemic was a challenge for the company for Mary, it was also a rewarding experience, “I am extremely proud of the FoodCycle team for the brilliance with which they have adapted to our Cook & Collect service. . Within months of the first lockdown, we were back delivering food packages and meals to vulnerable guests in communities across the country, improving nutrition, reducing hunger and reducing food waste. I am constantly amazed and impressed by the dedication of those around me – from our regional directors to our amazing volunteers.
Now that we are emerging from the other side of containment, Mary is anxious to bring back community meals as soon as it is safe to do so. Bringing people together around a healthy meal and creating opportunities to talk, exchange and build lasting relationships will be more important than ever as we emerge from this pandemic, ”she said. “We also have exciting plans for new projects across the country in areas and regions where we can have a wider impact. We ended 2020 with some amazing fundraising partnerships including Just Eat and a live cooking session with award-winning chef and FoodCycle Ambassador Ben Tish – and there’s plenty of fun in the pipeline for the next 12. month.
Food waste and food poverty are issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, so FoodCycle’s work will be critical going forward. Donating money and volunteering with the charity are great ways to get involved in problem solving, but if you have individual food donations to make, Mary points to organizations like Plan Zheroes, The Trussell Trust and Olio. Mary also shouted out The Old Vic after working with them “as a charitable partner for A Christmas Carol, which was an exciting experience. We were impressed with the generosity of their audience and director Jack Thorne, who matched the total raised.