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An Interview with Feeding the 5,000

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

I was wandering through Market Square last weekend and I noticed a lot of white marquee tents, and as I’m a curious person I went to investigate. I noticed a lot of people walking out with small bowls of curry and I heard someone say one of the best things a student can hear: FREE. Realising that the curry was free, I raced forward because, well, no student is going to turn down a free meal. As I was standing in the queue I noticed a lot of signs saying Feeding the 5,000. Confused I turned to a man in a florescent jacket; note to everyone – when looking for information at an event, always go to a high vis jacketed person.

He explained that Feeding the 5,000 is a campaign that is used to promote solutions to food wastage problems. At the events they use food that would have otherwise been thrown away to feed 5,000 people. They do this to prove how easy it is to cook leftovers and to make people more aware about the food that they are wasting.

I was able to get an interview with Sean Gibbons and Beth Morley about the project and their experiences of working on it. Sean Gibbons works for Food Aware which is one of the companies involved in the event, and Beth Morley works on the Nottingham City Council.

So, to start with, could you please tell us about your involvement with Feeding the 5,000?

Sean Gibbons: I know Stuart Tristram who basically set up this big food waste protest to raise awareness of the amount of food that is actually thrown away. Good food that is wasted when people are going hungry. Food Aware is a social enterprise that we set up back in 2008 in South Yorkshire. We have come together with Fare Share East Midlands today to provide all the ingredients; basically surplus food that’s feeding 5000 people for free.

Where is the food being sourced from?

SG: The food has been sourced from a number of suppliers through Fare Share and Food Aware, local farms, and supermarkets. Quality control failure products that are actually perfectly edible, but for whatever reason is the wrong shape, size, colour etc.

Do you now how much food has been used today in the curries?

SG: I think probably you’re looking at a good 2 tonnes of food which has been made in to a huge veg curry. It’s very tasty. And we’ve just done 3,000 people. 3,000 people fed already. [As of 3:45pm]

Is the aim to get 5,000 by the end of the day?

SG: Well its 5000 ideally but any stuff left over won’t be wasted. It will then be eaten throughout the day and obviously it will be consumed, it won’t be thrown away.

Is the hope today that when people go away they think more about the food that they are wasting and what it could be used for?

SG: Exactly, so basically about being creative and using life skills of actually only buying enough food that you need to eat, maybe making large dishes, freezing. Proper planning of meals which means that people are actually saving money and not going to the supermarket spending hundreds of pounds and throwing a third of it away, which is what a typical family does. 

The average family in UK, at the moment, throws away a staggering £600 a year. £50 per week is thrown away  because they’re either buying too much or they’re not eating the food, or they don’t understand the food labelling, they don’t understand Best Before dates and Use By dates. So with all of this education with Love Food Hate Waste we’re trying to give people the education to really value food and not throw it away.

Is this the first year you have held this event?

SG: This is the first one in Nottingham but similar events have took place in London Bristol, Manchester and across Europe. We’re hoping maybe to plan the next one in Sheffield or Doncaster. 

Are you making it an annual event? Trying to move to a different city every year?

Beth Morely: Feeding the 5000 works as a central organisation that came up with the idea and each city takes it on themselves and makes it their own event. So it’s about getting the organisations that are relevant to that city at the event and are part of it. So Fare Share and Food Aware are national organisations and they will be part of them across the country but then they will work with the people in Sheffield/Doncaster to create an event that is right for them.

So this event in tailor made for Nottingham?

BM: It’s tailor made, yes. 

Do you know roughly how many volunteers there are in the project?

BM: Today we probably had about 60 volunteers and then yesterday for the chopping event we probably had about 30-40. But then there have been other background volunteers that work for Food Aware & Fare Share that haven’t been involved in those two events but have been involved in sourcing the food.

So it’s a massive organisation. Do you know about the recipe for the curry incase people want to recreate it back home? Are you giving out recipe cards today and the event to help people cook?

SG: The Love Food Hate Waste tent have been giving out a lot of recipe cards to people so they can actually go and do this at home.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the project or your experience?

SG: Personally, from FA’s prospective, it’s been fantastic to work together with FareShare East Mids and with Beth and Nottingham Council and all the Feeding the 5000 team. It’s been a cracking partnership event, so looking forward to the next one.

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Rachel Bates


20 year old student from Manchester. Studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Nottingham Uni. Interested in fashion, acting, reading and cooking.
Harriet Dunlea is Campus Correspondent and Co-Editor in Chief of Her Campus Nottingham. She is a final year English student at the University of Nottingham. Her passion for student journalism derives from her too-nosey-for-her-own-good nature.