Food Waste Reduction Initiatives Sweep the Nation!
What’s in your lunch box? Did you eat it? How much packaging do you have? Why and can we reduce this waste? These are the questions we asked the third and sixth class students at the St. Patrick’s Junior School in Corduff, Blanchardstown. They participated in VOICE’s food waste reduction challenge and ‘Food Rescue’ event.
These students were asked to audit the contents of their lunch boxes and mark down each day what they threw away, how much it weighed, why and how can they could avoid this waste in the future. They did this for one week, after which, they came together to find methods to reduce their food and packaging waste. They refilled
their bottled water, they used containers rather than cling film and aluminium foil and they reduced their food waste. Each class measured and weighed, prepared power point presentations and graphs and presented their findings before their peers, teachers, county councillors and other adults.
Their results were impressive. Within one week, the 3rd classes reduced their food waste by 40% and their packaging waste by 26% and the participating 6th class reduced their food waste by 40% and packaging waste by 33%.
Through this project they also learned that Ireland throws away one million tonnes of food each year which has an environmental, economic and societal cost. While they had all heard about climate change and CO2, they didn’t realise that the methane released from rotting food was 25 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. They also learned that each household throws away between €500-800 worth of food each year, much of which could have still have been eaten given proper planning and cooking.
After their presentations, all attendees sat down to eat a ‘Food Rescue’ meal which was beautifully prepared in the school’s own kitchen by Fiona Daly and her team, from food that would have been thrown away. They made a pasta dish, quiche, soup, fruit salad and salad. Food donations were kindly donated by Supervalu, Centra and EuroSpar.
In the last two months, similar events have been taking place in the county of Kildare, where VOICE has been working with Tidy Towns groups to host ‘Food Rescue’ events. Mindy and Dave met with the groups in February to introduce them to the concept of Food Rescue and to provide some information about the problem of Food Waste in Ireland. Within two months, Maynooth Tidy Towns had organised and hosted their Food Rescue event, where local chef Gillian Duff gave a cooking demonstration on how to get the most out of commonly wasted food. With food donated by
SuperValu Maynooth, Gillian provided tasters of a tangy tomato soup, a delicious chicken and Broccoli bake, using theoften overlooked brown meat from the underneath of the chicken, and finished with a French Apple Tart, easily recreated with over-ripe apples. Tidy Towns representative Mary Jennings also gave a food waste presentation to the 25 attendees at Manor Mills post-primary school.
Hot on the heels of Maynooth were the Tidy Towns groups in Kilcullen and Celbridge, who held their Food Rescue events in the same week! In conjunction with Kalbarri cooking school, Kilcullen Tidy Towns fed over 40 people with inventive meals prepared from bottom-of-the-fridge and mouldy-bread-bin favourites! The sweet bread pudding went down a storm and the meatballs provided food for thought about what can be spared from a premature end in the bin. Celbridge hosted their event as part of the Taste of Celbridge Festival. Thankfully the sun came out and the event drew a huge crowd. Nally’s SuperValu donated fruit and vegetables that wouldn’t have met some aesthetic standards, but were perfect for making a delicious meal. Bruised bananas were given a new lease of life in a tasty banana bread, bendy carrots went into a scrumptious carrot cake and soft lemons gave a zesty kick to a lemon drizzle
cake. Local restaurant Michelangelo’s generously prepared a hearty soup out of the vegetables to go in compostable bowls, and this was accompanied by SuperValu’s last loaves of the day. Also on the menu was a flavoursome stir fry, cooked up by a volunteer from the Tidy Towns, a fruit salad, apple, rhubarb and blackberry crumble and meringues, which all went towards feeding over 150 people. Much of the food wasted in Ireland occurs in commercial settings, and so this event was not all about reaching households. VOICE provided fliers to circulate amongst other stall holders, encouraging them to offer half portions and doggy bags in their restaurants to enable diners to waste less when eating out, and also suggesting that they make soup from unused vegetables.
Other groups in Kildare intend to follow suit in the coming months, by putting on events of all varieties increasing awareness about food waste and what we all can do at home and in our communities. Keep an eye out for a Food Rescue happening near you on our facebook page, and if you feel like organising your own event, don’t be shy about contacting us!