It is undeniable that the last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for people: incomes have taken a hit, and many have struggled to even put food on their plate. At the same time, tons and tons of perfectly adequate and edible food is being thrown away and sent to landfills. The recent Cop 26 conference helped to highlight the climate crisis, and the situation we have found ourselves in. Food banks have opened everywhere, and charities have seen demand for their services increase exponentially. However, all hope is not lost as some people are endeavouring to contribute to change.
Food For Thought Heathfield is one such organisation helping to rebalance society, and the climate. This organisation, founded with the aim of reducing food waste and helping to feed struggling people, has been distributing surplus food from local supermarkets since December of 2020. This service has been offering food to anyone who would like it: it is not necessary to have a referral, some choose to use this operation for environmental reasons while others, to meet more personal needs.
I asked the founder of Food For Thought Heathfield, Katie Allen, why she, and her fellow volunteers, provide the service, and she said that they ‘want those who need food to have it’. Katie also says that they ‘encourage everybody to use surplus food to help others, [for] gifting and cooking for their own and their families’ use. The objective is to ‘feed people, look after the environment, build community and offer support’. Food For Thought work in partnership with Richmond Council, making use of Heathfield Recreation Ground, helping to build a sense of community and pride in the local green space.
Food For Thought Heathfield also receives help from many local businesses, who choose to donate to them by offering surplus food daily. Some businesses have also provided fundraising opportunities and grants- Food For Thought recently received the Asda Green Token Award, and are Co-Op community partners, meaning should you nominate them, Food For Thought receives one pence for every pound spent. Katie says that ‘these donations are invaluable’ and helps them to keep supporting the community.
Food For Thought launched during lockdown and were incredibly popular, in part, due to the difficult times everyone was enduring. Not only was this a place to receive free food, but also provided an opportunity for those who had been isolated for months, to get out, see others, and re-connect with society. More recently, their demand has increased further due to people becoming more aware of the environmental benefits this can provide.
So, how can you help support them? You can start by taking steps to look after the environment- for example by considering how you manage food waste within your own homes: you could use your food recycle caddy effectively, or freeze food before its use by date. Businesses can be encouraged to donate edible surplus food, for example by voting for such organisations and charities in things such as the Green Token Award run by Asda. Signing up as a CO Op member and choosing them as your cause can also help. You can also directly assist Food For Thought by donating money which would go towards running costs and help sustain their services.
No cause is ever lost, and no-one should ever feel hopeless; all it needs is some like-minded people to round up and encourage the rest of us to make a contribution. It works- Food For Thought is proof.