3 June 2019
Photo credit: Eat Up Charity
Glasgow Charity using a variety of initiatives to help reduce food waste and distribute throughout local areas
An announcement was made in May advising Glasgow and Edinburgh would both be competing to be the first carbon neutral city in Scotland with projections for Glasgow to reduce its footprint by 2045 – according to plans by the Scottish Government. What exactly does this mean for us living in and around the city and what steps can we take to contribute to this target? It isn’t just about us all collectively driving less in city centres, eradicating fossil fuels and eating less meat – it’s thinking about the way we live our lives including how we consume our own personal fuel supply, food.
Food waste is an issue that’s rife not just in Glasgow but globally. Many people are chipping away at the problem by tackling their own personal provisions, but one Glasgow based charity is going the extra green mile by using a range of techniques to address food poverty and food waste by going right to the heart of the problem. Eat Up Charity were formed in 2018 and work tirelessly to take food waste from commercial premises and redistribute it to those who not only need it but will use it. Another initiative run by founder of the charity Tommy Reid is the Grow Up campaign that involves starting from scratch in communities that are identified by the government as needing support. The most recent guide to deprived areas in Scotland indicated that Ferguslie Park in Paisley topped the latest list in 2016 so Eat Up headed straight to the root of the problem.
Or the lack of roots. Tommy Reid takes the small but important step to grow new trees in the area. A move that not only allows the local residents in Ferguslie Park to get their hands dirty but offers hopes of sustainability. The new trees will bear fruit in residents’ own gardens.
Photo Credit: Eat Up Charity
Reid explains: “As part of the Blueprint Scotland initiative that I used to run something that developed was the Grow Up Campaign which was growing your own food. We are growing things at the office here, as well as having land in Renfrew. We did try to buy land in Ferguslie Park from Renfrewshire Council but there were too many barriers so we are now looking to just buy land. As part of the grow up campaign, we planted fruit trees in Ferguslie and a few other things to get things going and [we are] using that as our prototype. The trees are in peoples’ gardens and around Tannahill as, according to the deprivation index, that was the most deprived area in Scotland. We thought it made sense to start where the Scottish Government is saying is the most deprived area – we want to change the outcomes there.”
Tommy Reid from Eat Up Charity speaks about his reform plans including the Up Campaign that plants trees in deprived areas.
As the trees start to bloom the data gathered by this process will also grow and form the foundations for further projects. All those involved with Blueprint are looking at what land can sourced locally to grow more food, how to distribute seeds to the community and also how to involve the community in the process. And the mindfulness benefits of gardening also speak for themselves. Although the intentions to grow foods at source are honourable, the ethos of the work being done by Tommy, Norrie and Jamie is the Eat Up Charity.
Food is being wasted at phenomenal levels, including buying too much for personal consumption or leftover products from supermarkets, cafes, fast food outlets and coffee shops. The charity is looking to bridge that gap by going into individual outlets and sourcing whatever food waste there is and then distributing it amongst those who not only need it but will use it. Beneficiaries include student unions and important projects like the community fridge and cabinet at The Star Project. The charity also works alongside shop owner Rekz Afzal who is a business service advisor.
With the recent declaration of a climate emergency in Scotland, Afzal had this to say to those using his community fridge: “The initiative has never had the need to ask for food donations as a constant flow of surplus food has always come in. That is true beauty of it and it’s about creating an efficient network. Facilitating good food that is treated as waste at the end of a food outlets business day whilst being perfectly consumable.
“Recently a climate emergency was declared, it’s only right that this service is opened up to everyone, those who struggle and those who are considerate enough to use up food that has a short life. This reduces waste vastly, cleaning up the environment and building a more resilient stronger community. Sharing food will change the world.”
The hope is to develop the model of community fridges in local shops utilising the distributed food waste and this is already coming into fruition. The is stepped up and only last month another fridge opened in Pollock providing an extra lifeline to locals. The work Rekz has already carried out in Paisley alone is now bearing fruit of its own with the model being replicated elsewhere.
Eat Up are now looking to expand and have set up a warehouse in Glasgow to help with the strategic planning of delivering food waste to as many people and organisations throughout the city as possible. The charity is already supported by big organisations like Marks and Spencers in Silverburn and Tesco in Renfrew. There are also plans to source a van which will make the process more seamless. Donations can be made on the charity’s website towards the cost.
Jamie Tiong who is involved as a treasurer for the charity said: “We are one of the most well-off nations in the world and it is shocking that the country has foodbank[s]. I can’t speak for the personal circumstances of everyone but as a whole, people are trying to get food and don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.”
As time marches on, the hope is carbon emissions will continue to go down and we can get to a position in Scotland where we no longer need community fridges and foodbanks. But until that day arrives, support from places like Eat Up and The Trussell Trust are most welcome.