Nottingham City Council has joined forces with food redistribution charity FareShare Midlands to help produce meals for local people in need from food that would otherwise be thrown away.
The innovative new project – a partnership between Nottingham Catering, part of Nottingham City Council, FareShare UK, FareShare Midlands and Sainsbury’s – turns an environmental problem into a social solution. The commercial kitchen at Loxley House, the council’s HQ, will be used to produce meals that will be delivered directly to local charitable and not-for-profit organisations who are tackling hunger, poverty and the escalating effects of the cost of living crisis.
In full production, the kitchen team will prepare, process and cook 5,460kg of surplus foods to provide 13,000 meals per month. Two chefs and a team of volunteers will use their culinary creativity to devise healthy meals with the ingredients that come in. FareShare Midlands will distribute the meals to multiple Nottingham community groups, including social eating spaces, community groceries and homeless shelters. The charity is liaising with existing members and other local charitable organisations to establish which ones will be able to use these meals to feed people in need.
FareShare Midlands is the region’s largest food redistribution charity. Currently, 8.4m people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat and 58,000 children in Nottinghamshire are living in poverty, 22,500 of whom live in Nottingham City. The production of nutritious meals will further grow and diversify the range of surplus food that FareShare Midlands can accept, while reducing its detrimental impact on the environment when it is unnecessarily wasted.
By getting involved in the meal production initiative to support vulnerable members of the local community, Nottingham Catering aims to help deal with food insecurity across Nottingham and the Midlands. In addition, redistributing surplus food will reduce food waste, supporting the council’s 2028 carbon neutrality strategy.
Sainsbury’s is funding the project in a demonstration of its commitment to making healthy and sustainable diets accessible for everyone. As part of the Sainsbury’s ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’ mission, the organisation is supporting customers to reduce carbon emissions and food waste – key objectives of the meal production project.
Nottingham City Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People and Education, said: “At a time when many people are struggling with the cost of living, we are delighted to be involved in the meal production project to bring nutritious meals to community groups.
“This project will put our commercial kitchen at Loxley House to good use, while giving volunteers the opportunity to develop their skills, take part in training and increase their employability. We look forward to finding out what meals are created, where they go and the difference that the food makes to people.”
FareShare Midlands Chief Executive, Simone Connolly said: “Meal production is another way for us to unlock even more surplus food from the food industry. It brings greater flexibility in terms of shelf life and usability, as cooked meals and ingredients can be frozen and stored for later use. Local community organisations and charities will be able to offer these meals to vulnerable families in need – whether as part of a community pantry offering, community café service or holiday activity programme.
“We would also love to see new social eating activities launched, to help people fight the isolation and loneliness that grew during the Covid 19 pandemic. We are hopeful that these meals will play a role in improvements in community health, wellbeing and social cohesion.”
Sainsbury’s Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Ruth Cranston said: “The rising cost of living is affecting people all over the country, so it is crucial that we continue to support communities during this challenging time.
“We are proud to support our long-standing partner, FareShare and we hope that the launch of the Loxley House meal production initiative will help to deal with food insecurity across Nottingham and the Midlands, making sure that those who are vulnerable can access healthy and nutritious food. We’re pleased to be able to help make a difference, one plate at a time.”