We're joining the fight on food waste!

Submitted by SCM on Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:00

Andrew Topping of Birmingham Methodist Society shares why MethSoc are joining the fight on food waste.

With the end of the academic year fast approaching, societies at the University of Birmingham are electing new committees and starting to plan their programme of events for next year. At MethSoc we have started this process and following a visit from SCM’s Stephen Atkinson, we have decided to pursue a food recycling scheme for next year.

In his visit, Stephen spoke to us about the rate and sheer amount of food that is wasted globally, particularly as a result of our demanding and unsustainable habits in the west. The actual figures are pretty staggering. Globally almost one third of all food produced gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. In the UK, the average family wastes nearly £60 worth of food a month which is the equivalent of 24 meals. Having worked in a small supermarket, I have myself witnessed the amount of food that, after not selling on the shelves, is then bagged and thrown into the skips as waste. Most of this food is perfectly edible yet the financial demands of many food retailers mean that it is easier to just dispose of surplus food rather than to seek less wasteful solutions. Considering the problem of food poverty in Britain, let alone globally, we should be shocked by the reckless wastefulness on one hand and the desperate need on the other. This way of doing things is not only objectionable to our sense of morality and fairness, it is also an increasingly unviable and unsustainable system that has played a major role in damaging our planet. Gandhi said, ‘The world provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.’ This statement has perhaps never been more evident when we look at the inequality of our world and society today. As Christians who are called to address and challenge the injustices of our world, we felt that this was an area where we could act to make a positive change for our university and wider community.

Stephen has led the way in terms of student responses to these issues. At Royal Holloway, University of London, a scheme was put in place by Stephen and others to take surplus food from outlets and shops on the university campus and then deliver this to charities and groups in the local area. Having made a start at Royal Holloway, a group at Sheffield University has also followed suit by setting up a similar food recycling scheme for the university and the surrounding area. Here at the University of Birmingham we are excited to be a part of this trend of action from students across the country who seek to challenge the unfair way in which food is distributed and wasted in our country. In the coming year we hope to set up a similar recycling scheme to those at Sheffield and Royal Holloway and in doing so we want to become part of a wider shift in attitudes towards the way we manage and consume our food.

Stephen has been investigating food waste as part of the Faith In Action Internship at SCM. If you are interested in knowing more about starting a food recycling scheme at your university, please email him.

Tags: Faith in ActionStudentUniversity