Our country may be developed, but every day people go hungry for a variety of reasons such as unexpected bills, redundancy and homelessness. Latest government figures have revealed that 52,000 families were formally declared as homeless last year.
This has resulted in an increasing need for food banks. Statistics published by leading charity The Trussell Trust revealed that food banks fed 913,138 people nationwide last year including 330,205 children.
Armley Junk-tion, currently ranked 126th of 1373 places to eat in Leeds on Tripadvisor, is a special place. The homeless and people who have fallen on hard times dine shoulder-to-shoulder with middle class clientele, with the food easily being on a par with high end restaurants, and everyone has a smile on their face.
Instead of having prices on the menu you literally contribute what you feel like paying. This usually means paying what you can afford or what you thought the food was worth. The project, the brainchild of 30-year-old local Adam Smith, intercepts food otherwise destined for landfills and converts it into healthy, delicious dishes that the whole community enjoy.
During the research for this article I spoke to Teresa Milligan, co-director of Armley Junk-tion , she said:
The food waste from the supermarkets is disgusting; they see one dodgy tomato and throw the whole crate away. Why throw it away? We have hungry people that need it. It’s just common sense.
This sentiment was echoed by a nameless 21-year-old employee of a similar project, the Magic Hat café in Newcastle, who had this to say:
Supermarkets refuse to give us their food so we mostly get it from schools and markets but we all know the main waste is in the big supermarkets.
So is it true? Would our supermarkets rather throw food away than help to feed our homeless? I spoke to various employees, both past and present, who have chosen to remain unidentified.
Marks & Spencer
“I know that we used to give all our food waste to local charities but then someone sued M&S after they got poisoned. They throw it all away now.”
RESPONSE: Not available to comment.
Employee 1: “I was left in tears when I was told by my manager that I could not give the food to the homeless. It was past its best before but not use by date and it was all thrown into a bin with a lock on it. This happens daily.”
Employee 2 (different store): “Every weekend I closed down the bakery section. Two hours before we closed I would reduce them to try and avoid wastage. When this didn’t work I would actually have to put loafs of bread, baked that day, into the rubbish bins. I asked manager my why we couldn’t give it to charity and was told “that’s just the way it is.””
RESPONSE: “What you’ve been told does not reflect our approach to minimising food waste and donating it to those in need. We work very hard in our communities, supporting local groups with regular donations of time (volunteering), money and food.”
“Any food we didn’t sell had to be put through a waste disposal unit where it was destroyed. You weren’t allowed to eat it or give it away. I asked if we could give it to homeless and was told we couldn’t in case someone got ill and sued.”
RESPONSE: Not available to comment.
“Aldi don’t really have best before dates and all food waste goes straight back to the warehouse and goes into producing bio-fuel.”
RESPONSE: “At Aldi we work hard to eliminate food waste at our stores. In 2012, donations of non-perishable food waste to charitable organisations became standard practice in the UK business.
“As well as this, since 2013 all UK stores have been disposing of perishable food waste that is unfit for donation through our anaerobic digestion programme, in order to recycle food waste and reduce the amount going to landfill.”
“Tesco isn’t as bad as you would think; it’s just the bakery that is terrible for food waste. Loads of bread gets thrown in the bins. I feel shan [?] about binning it man.”
RESPONSE: “We are looking at lots of ways to reduce food waste, and we are working with charities to make sure surplus food – including bakery – goes to people who really need it. All bakery waste that can’t be distributed in this way is recycled and used to feed farm animals.”
France has now introduced legislation forcing supermarkets to give their waste to charity. Do you think we should do the same?
If so you can do something about it by clicking here and signing our petition.
If we get 100k signatures we’ll lobby parliament.