It’s no secret that as students, we often complain about how little money we have. When everyone else is heading out on a Friday night in the middle of second term, it’s easy to regret having blown half your money during Fresher’s Week.
Learning to budget is part of being a student. However, it’s important not to forget that for many people our own age in the UK, actual poverty is a real issue. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the number of people aged 16-29 living in poverty has increased in the last decade. Whilst poverty has been a topical issue, both in the news and in Parliament in the last few years, many will be surprised to hear of just how many young people, people the same age as many of us, are unable to afford basic necessities such as food.
One of the organisations attempting to help people in poverty is FoodCycle, which works on a three step basis: it asks supermarkets to donate surplus food, asks for volunteers to help cook, and asks businesses to donate their kitchen space. The organisation has hubs all over the UK. The Bristol branch is based at the Easton Community Centre, and on a Sunday serves hot and nutritious meals to those in financial or social difficulty. FoodCycle estimates that 400,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away by supermarkets in the UK every year. To put that into context, the average blue whale weighs 181 tonnes. At the same time, 4 million people are affected by food poverty. As FoodCycle itself says: food wastage and food poverty should not co-exist in today’s society.
There are several ways you can get involved with FoodCycle. A quick visit to their website gives you the option to donate or volunteer your time. And FoodCycle is not the only organisation working towards simultaneously reducing food waste and food poverty: FareShare also has a branch in Bristol. However, despite the amazing work such organisations do, they are not nearly as well known as they deserve to be.
All of us have been guilty, I’m sure, at some point in our lives, of having over-bought, and of consequently throwing out gone-off food. Smarter shopping is the way to reduce our own food waste, and on a national level, organisations like FoodCycle are making a change all over the UK. If you would like to find out more about reducing food waste, visit one of the websites below.