Andrea Purslow: Working collaboratively we can reduce food waste and poverty

Andrea Purslow: Working collaboratively we can reduce food waste and poverty

Across London, homes are growing scarcer, living costs are soaring and more people are using food banks than ever before. Last year, almost 385,000 people in London did so – an increase of nearly 100,000 compared with the previous year. 

No two boroughs are the same and people’s life chances vary drastically from one to the other. Recent research shows that a child born in Wandsworth is twice as likely to grow up in poverty than a child in Richmond. And over in Tower Hamlets, they’re four times more likely to.

But now, the London Food Insecurity Network, a collaboration between housing associations and charities, is tackling the burgeoning food insecurity and food waste problems facing the capital.  

Our recent Index report found that almost a third of those surveyed have a household income of less than £20,000. This is below a full time salary at London Living Wage levels and below the Minimum Income Standard. 

The report showed that more residents described their finances as “difficult” than “ok”, and as being worse than the previous year. Residents in every age group told us they have cut back on essentials like food and energy because of their worsening finances. 

Peabody is a not-for-profit housing association dedicated to funding this cause and focused on bringing together London-based housing associations to tackle food insecurity. By improving access to more and better food, we strive to ensure that no social housing resident in London goes to bed hungry. 

The network is funded by us and comprised of food redistribution charity The Felix Project, social housing charity HACT and other housing associations, such as The Hyde Group. Our first major project was undertaken last Christmas and a huge success. Nearly 200,000 free meals were distributed at almost 50 winter food markets across London. 

A staggering 82 tonnes of fresh food – the equivalent in weight of 32 black cabs – worth £131,000 were saved from waste and given to people living in communities in need. Fruit and vegetables made up 55 percent of the deliveries from a range of 500 suppliers – including all major supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s and Ocado.

We hosted seven winter market events, offering a warm and welcoming environment for people to help tackle food waste by filling their baskets with fresh and store cupboard ingredients.  

As part of the network, members of the G15 group of London’s largest housing associations are pooling resources to support The Felix Project and in turn benefit their residents and communities. Peabody and Hyde have already donated £50,000 each and are garnering support from fellow G15 members and supply chain partners. This donation will be used to cover the cost of storing and delivering food to those in need. 

The winter markets ensured surplus food from supermarkets was available to people in their neighbourhoods at an expensive time of year instead of going to waste and ending up in a landfill site.  

This partnership with HACT and The Felix Project is just one example of our dedication to making a tangible difference to the lives of Londoners by breaking stigmas, supporting residents, and boosting health and wellbeing. 

Andrea Purslow is Head of Strategic Partnerships and Funding at Peabody. Follow Peabody on X/Twitter. Photo from Peabody. Support On London and its writers for £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE.

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