Surplus food from traders estimated to have provided 200,000 meals for vulnerable people in London
London’s Borough Market, recognised for its world-class produce, is celebrating its successful partnership with zero food waste charity Plan Zheroes, as they mark 500 collections of surplus food since they started working together in 2014.
Plan Zheroes ambassador and TV Chef Jeremy Pang was joined by Borough Market’s Managing Director Darren Henaghan to prepare the milestone collection, which took place on Wednesday.
It is estimated that 8.4 million people in the UK are experiencing food poverty of some kind, yet food surplus and waste in retail amounts to 260,000 tonnes per year. Between 2015-2018, the amount of this food that was redistributed to charities increased more than three-fold however, it is believed that there is still potential for a further 80,000 tonnes to be added to this redistribution.*
Since joining forces with Borough Market in 2014, Plan Zheroes has facilitated 500 collections of surplus food from the Market’s traders, amounting to over 80tonnes – the equivalent to almost 200,000 meals’ worth of food – and 800 tonnes of C02 emissions saved. The collections are made every Wednesday and Saturday and the food is distributed to more than 20 charities to feed vulnerable people across the capital.
Plan Zheroes has a pool of about 40 volunteers who collect the food from traders then distribute it to charities that come to a collection point in the market. Some volunteers also deliver the food by bike to two local charities.
The majority of food donated is fruit & veg, followed by baked goods, dairy products, meat and fish with top quality produce coming from up to 30 traders including Ted’s Veg, La Tua Pasta, Pieminister, Shellseekers Fish & Game, Bread Ahead and Olivier’s bakery.
Charities benefiting from the gourmet produce include: Lucy Brown House, a sheltered housing complex based around the corner from Borough Market; Elim House Community Association, a centre for the elderly that provides leisure activities and day time community care; Look Ahead, delivering mental health services and supporting the homeless, the young and people with learning disabilities, Blackfriars Settlement, promoting physical and mental wellbeing and St Mungo’s, a homelessness charity and housing association that provides shelter and support to more than 2,500 people a night throughout London and the Southeast.
Jeremy Pang, Plan Zheroes Ambassador, School of Wok founder and TV Chef said: “I’ve been a big supporter of Plan Zheroes and their work with Borough Market for many years now, so it was a privilege to help with this milestone collection. Food insecurity is not getting any better in the UK, particularly with the damaging effects of the ongoing pandemic, so it is important that we promote the work of organisations like Plan Zheroes to let people know that there is support for them.”
Darren Henaghan, Managing Director of Borough Market said: “We take waste reduction extremely seriously at Borough Market and our traders are encouraged to plan effectively to avoid waste. But it is impossible to get quantities exactly right – our footfall numbers vary daily, with factors as simple as the weather or as complex as Covid, having an impact on people visiting us. The work Plan Zheroes does is brilliant as it not only combats the issue of food waste, but it also means that those in need of food are receiving some of the best quality produce out there. We take pride in our commitment to supporting our local community and this partnership allows us to reach some of the most vulnerable members within it.”
Chris Wilkie, Co-Founder and Chair of Plan Zheroes said: “It’s been a difficult year, but food is still getting to people who need it and we really appreciate the support that we’ve had from Borough Market and their commitment to saving good food from waste. We have strong connections with many of the traders – around 30 of them regularly donate – and they’re always keen to help. Everybody wins: it’s good for the traders, it’s good for the Market, it’s good for the charities, which are getting top quality food that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, and it’s great for our volunteers to have something very positive to work on. It’s a brilliant experience and to have reached the 500th collection is a fantastic achievement.”
Richard Geary, of recipient charity Lucy Brown House said: “A couple of people are on Universal Credit and really struggle, often using food banks, so it’s great to be able to give them that extra fruit and veg. Most aren’t, but they often still have limited income and ordinarily wouldn’t buy fruit for themselves – they see it as a luxury – so they love it when I bring fresh strawberries or apples from the Market.”
For more information on the Borough Market and Plan Zheroes partnership visit: https://boroughmarket.org.uk/about#environmental-commitment