Six months ago, U.K. grocery chain Tesco launched a test program, saving 50,000 meals worth of food in the process.
They partnered with FareShare, an anti-hunger organization that helps connect groups wanting to donate food with soup kitchens and food banks, and it’s been a hit.
Here’s how it works:
1. Stores set aside food that would ordinarily be thrown out.
This includes foods that have reached their “sell by” date, as well as misshapen fruit and vegetables. Instead of tossing the food out, they keep it in a bin in the back, ready for someone from a local charity to come pick it up.
2. Someone from a local charity stops by the store to pick up the food.
This is where FareShare comes in, helping pair charities with Tesco locations. The charity will get a text message from FareShare telling them there’s food available. From there, they can send someone to pick up the food.
3. They drop the food off at their shelter, charity, food bank, or soup kitchen.
From here, the food is prepared and distributed to people in need. So simple, right?
The simplicity of that process is nothing compared to the real life impact this program is having.
At the Anfield Breckside Community Council, free meals are served three days a week using food from Tesco and FareShare.
It’s part of a program called Food U Need, and it’s helping people struggling with hunger fill their stomachs. As bills mount, even retirees and people with a full-time job find themselves unable to afford food. That’s what makes Food U Need so essential: It provides food to people with no questions asked. You can just come in, sit down, and have a meal.
They accept all kinds of food and make sure nothing goes to waste.
How’s the food? You won’t hear any complaints from this crowd.
Without the Liverpool-based meal program, these people would likely go hungry.
The best part? The program has been so successful that Tesco is expanding the program to all 800 of their stores across the U.K.
Roughly 795 million people on earth are undernourished. While there are some big things that need to happen to solve that, one of the easiest steps we can take is to stop letting food go to waste.
Last year, France passed a law banning grocery stores from throwing away food. Instead, chains are now required to donate to charity, process into animal feed, or compost their unsold food. In the U.S., a number of organizations are testing creative solutions for hunger, including the Campus Kitchens Project, Donate Don’t Dump, and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.
It’s good to see a large chain like Tesco take up this project in the U.K. Maybe it’ll inspire chains around the globe to try out similar programs.