Berczy visits UKHarvest
Georgie, Lucy and Nick from Berczy went down to Chichester this month to visit our charity partners, UKHarvest at their HQ. UKHarvest is a not-for-profit organisation that rescues surplus food from commercial outlets and distributes it to charities to feed those most in need. Whilst they rescue a lot of food that would otherwise have gone into landfill, they are also on a mission to educate more people about food waste and how to prevent it in our daily lives. In the UK we waste 6.4 million tonnes of perfectly good food every year, which we are all responsible for.
It was a hugely eye opening experience, seeing their enormous warehouse stacked high with food that would have otherwise gone to waste, such as chocolate, coffee, potatoes and much more.
We learnt that one of their largest donors over the last year has been Carnival Cruises, who are docked in nearby Southampton, who found themselves with tonnes of perishable food after cruises were cancelled, as well as Ocado and Aldi. What was shocking to see, is that a large percentage of the surplus came from seasonal products such as Easter chocolate that are only sold in-store for a few months, but don’t expire for nearly a year later!
UKHarvest’s operation is truly impressive; a lot of food products that come in are perishable, so everything needs to be unpacked, quality checked and repacked by their team to be immediately sent out again. The drivers deliver all this surplus food from their warehouse in Chichester, up as far as Bristol, north London and Kent to charities, food banks, homeless shelters and youth centres.
While we were there, we were keen to get stuck in and lend a hand, driving to a nearby garden centre to pick up some surplus herbs. We were pretty surprised when we arrived and saw perfect-looking, fragrant herbs that had been rejected by the big supermarkets because they were too tall! It showed us that there’s a lot of problems with the production of food here in the UK and the number of rules and regulations, but thankfully we rehomed these luscious greens to happy people.
The team at UKHarvest have just finished building a brand new kitchen funded by Coast to Capital, which will give them even more opportunities to fight food waste! Through their NourishEd platform, they will be providing cookery courses to teach people how to be savvy with their leftovers, and their chefs can turn surplus food that cannot be redistributed into tasty treats.
Launching soon, is their Nourish Hub in west London, a place that will provide training and employment opportunities to the local community, serve nourishing meals and teach residents new cooking skills. We can’t wait to see this inspiring space open and to support the team at UKHarvest with their new venture.