Wasting sausages is the Wurst – working together to save food from landfill

There are endless disturbing facts and figures around how much food is wasted every day in the UK, these numbers are usually accompanied by some data about how many people are going hungry or the number of foodbank parcels given out each week. It’s enough to make you feel really quite angry, how can we still be letting perfectly good food go to landfill? It’s not for want of trying, there are groups and charities across the country that are fighting tooth and nail to save the “waste” food. But there, in that statement, shows how we have become accustomed to referring to perfectly edible food as “waste”, we must reframe that narrative. Calling it waste food simply blurs the reality and allows the supermarkets and industries that are doing the wasting to get away with it as people assume ‘waste food’ means poor quality or ‘second hand’, but it doesn’t, we’ve seen crates and crates of perfectly shaped and scrumptious fruit & veg that’s destined for landfill. Even using the term ‘surplus food’ has problematic connotations as it is certainly not surplus to requirement to those that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The government does not require supermarkets to report on how much food they are wasting, the only big supermarket that does is Tescos and that is voluntarily. If people knew just how much perfectly edible food was being thrown away perhaps there would be more pressure on the government to put in place laws to change it, after all Britain wastes the most food in Europe. 
What’s happening locally?
Locally we have a number of groups who work on rescuing and redistributing food, Brighton based organisation the Real Junk Food Project promotes the hashtag #feedbelliesnotbins which is a message we fully stand behind. In Denton in Newhaven there’s the Havens Food Cooperative which has a team of volunteers collecting food directly from supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day due to sell-by dates. Familiarising yourself with what the different dates mean on packaging is an important step to reducing food wastage; a sell-by date is not a food safety indicator and the government guidelines are that food is still fine to eat after it’s sell-by date (and it’s best-before date), the only date which we should not eat food after is the ‘use-by’ date and yet supermarkets will throw food away based on an arbitrary date that dictates that a product needs to be binned, rather than letting people rely on their senses. Thankfully, groups like the Havens Food Cooperative are collecting this food before it’s chucked out and redistributing it to households in need in the local area. Finally, the Big Cheese of the food waste/surplus/redistribution network is Fareshare, a charity with a huge operation to redistribute food to charities and community groups across the country (18,500 charities according to their website).
Wasting sausages is the Wurst – how we saved 6,500 sausages from landfill.
In May, we (Lewes District Food Partnership) received a call from Havens Food Cooperative who said that a local wholesaler (Elite Fine Foods) had asked if they could donate 6,500 frozen vegan sausages that were close to their best before date (as well as 2,820 mince pies!). At LDFP we have an Emergency Food Network which is made up of local projects providing free and affordable food to those in need, the Havens Food Cooperative knew they wouldn’t get rid of that amount of sausages without some help, let alone over 2000 mince pies in May! What happened next was a great example of the power of partnerships, of working together on a common objective and a shared passion for feeding bellies not bins! We sent out a message to local groups in Lewes District and Brighton & Hove and to Fareshare Sussex and within hours we knew we could S.O.S (SAVE OUR SAUSAGES!).
Elite Fine Foods organised free delivery of the food to our offices at Denton Island Community Centre and eight projects came and collected their share of the goods. A huge success, and to think it would have ended up in landfill otherwise! 
We want to send a huge thank you to Elite Fine Foods for prioritising saving the food from being wasted and helping their community, it really is not the norm and the system and policies in place make it often cheaper and easier for companies to bin stuff rather than donate it. We need more businesses like Elite Fine Foods and we applaud them for their positive actions, offering free delivery and their drivers to help unload! 
Finally, a thank you to Havens Food Cooperative for connecting us and to the below projects for jumping to action:
Seahaven Community Food Seahaven Community Food
Landport Community Cafe Landport Community Cafe
Fitzjohns Foodbank Fitzjohn’s Food Bank
Sussex Surplus Sussex Surplus
East Brighton Food Cooperative East Brighton Food Co-operative
Lunch Positive Lunch Positive
Balfour Food Project Balfour MA Foodbank
Bangers and mash anyone?

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