“On Monday the news was full of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which effectively called for nothing less than a revolution in the way we are living to avoid catastrophic damage, not only to the poorest people in the world, but a drastic reduction in biodiversity and an increase in the rate of extinction of creatures. For Christians this isn't just an ecological or a scientific issue or an issue of the survival of our own species, but a spiritual issue, a theological issue, because it's God the creator we celebrate the one who made us and all that is seen and unseen.” Click read more to discover -
- The background
- Why we did this
- The challenge
- What we learned
On 14 October, St James's held it’s Harvest Sunday service. It was an opportunity to celebrate as we had recently been awarded Gold Eco church status - only the fourth in the country and the first in an urban setting. After the service, 120 of us sat down together for a lunch created entirely from ‘surplus food’.
Why did we do this?
The Ecoteam wanted to highlight the issue of food waste. At a global level, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year - equivalent to more than half the world's annual cereal crop. At the same time, 795 million people around the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. At a UK level, we waste around a third of the food grown and less than 7% of our ‘waste’ food (that is, past its use-by date or simply looking a little unpalatable to our fussy developed-world preferences) is redirected for consumption, the rest goes to anaerobic digestion or landfill.
How did we source the surplus food?
We worked with City Harvest - an organisation that redistributes more than 30 tonnes of food a week to charitable organisations. In addition, we set up links with Wholefoods, situated just behind Piccadilly - they were looking to partner with a local group and we fit the bill.
Until the day before our Harvest Lunch, we had no idea what food we would receive. We worked with what we received and created enough delicious food based around vegetable bakes for around 120 people for almost zero cost (we had to dash out and buy some vegan margarine for crisping the top of our bakes). Of course, it was not everyone’s cup of tea - but that was the interesting bit - that everyone had to adapt their expectations for a Sunday lunch and it was a talking point.
What did we learn from this experience?
We had a brilliant team of volunteers who helped prep the food the day before. It was a big job and it took six of us four hours - so it was labour intensive. We also ended up with a mountain of bread which we are still trying to re-distribute!
We will maintain our links with both City Harvest and Wholefoods and will be working to use surplus food for Church events whenever possible.