Since September 2017 Strath Foodsharing has given away 452 kilograms of free food. The society promotes sustainability and food waste reduction and is located in Priory, on level six of the Student’s Union.
The bread, pastry, vegetables, occasional meat and dairy products come in several times a week and are free for anyone to take.
Saved from local retailers and grocers, who would otherwise bin the produce, the society receives donations from three none profits based in Glasgow.
The Community Arts Centre The Space, Garnethill Multicultural Centre and the Foodsharing Network, collect the food from supermarkets and restaurants and make them available for charitable distribution and collection.
As food donations primarily go to people who are economically disadvantaged, Sara Cowan, founder of Strath Foodsharing, explained how some of the saved food is distributed to the benefit of students: “All of these organisations distribute food waste to those in need, but they often have left-overs to throw out – which is where this society comes in.
All of the food shared would be going in a bin, so anyone and everyone is urged to take it. The society has a facebook group @Strath Foodsharing where available food is posted for students’ convenience.”
Cowan, a fourth year in Economics and Business Analysis and Technology, was inspired to take the project to Strathclyde after she enjoyed a similar initiative on her exchange in the Netherlands.
“We now have more than 200 members on Facebook and positive feedback. It’s always great to see that someone has written something in the comment book or when the Debates society yells: “We love you Food Sharing Society!”, Cowan said proudly.
Elena Pascal, who is the society’s fridge coordinator said: “Food waste is a specifically dear issue to me. If the mental image of the pile of perfectly recyclable plastic to be burned each year in UK is still fresh in your mind, then you can imagine a pile twice as big, this time made of bread sitting in bin bags in the landfill.
The Landfill is not a good place for organic material decomposition. In fact, the lack of oxygen leads to anaerobic production of methane, a greenhouse gas.”
Pascal continued, “(And) In case you were wondering – no, taping this source of free fuel, is not yet reality.”
Pascal points out that unlike other environmental challenges, food waste can be tackled: “Waste, unlike other problems (in) our society is not really a terribly difficult problem. About 350 municipalities in Europe are currently producing close to net zero waste and one of those is even in (the) UK.”
According to the Food Standard Agency one million tonnes of bread go to waste in the UK each year alone, the figure amounts to seven million tonnes combining all foods wasted the UK over the same period.
“Food is incredibly expensive in terms of the resources it requires. I feel it is a shame when food goes to waste that could have otherwise been saved. Wouldn’t it be great if we all worked as a community to minimise that?”, said Pascal.
She pleads to the community to do their share to reduce food waste: “Significant waste reductions can be made starting with each and every one of us and if the local council can also pay some attention to it that could be even better.”
Apart from physically saving food, Pascal is excited to have found a platform that educates about food waste at Strathclyde. “For instance, to know the difference between best before and use by date. Or, put your sliced bread in the freezer to enjoy for longer. – No really, do it right now; you can save a loaf from the land fill.”, Pascal said.
“Our project is not just about reducing food waste, it’s about making students more waste conscious in every area”, Pascal added.
By Sara Cowan and Titi Farukuoye