Surplus Food and Smoothie Surprises at Bridge Farm School

Following the success of a visit to St. Michael’s primary school last year, we at FoodCycle were keen to embark on some more school excursions. Our recent trip to Bridge Farm Primary School is the beginning of what we hope to develop into a well rounded educational project presented by the Bristol FoodCycle team. School 1

Education is a vital part of our endeavour, however we are fully aware that in practise it is something that we often to become overlooked. Producing a substantial and well-balanced meal out of surplus food at the Sunday kitchen not only provides for those in needs but also demonstrates the extreme quantity that is unnecessarily wasted every week. This being said, it is difficult to consistently convey such a message to the wider public, who often feel (mistakenly) that they are not entitled to eat at the weekly meal. Furthermore, given the fact that the larger proportion of our Sunday customers do come from impoverished backgrounds, the promotion of healthy eating can fall by the wayside in an attempt to fill bellies. We are keen to turn this around and prove that promoting food sustainability and health really do go hand in hand to combat a multitude of issues faced by both the developed and the developing world including food poverty, famine, modern epidemics such as obesity and diabetes as well as environmental issues and climate change.

We can all agree that no matter how rich poor old young food is a universal interest, as well as being a necessity, and can be used to get anyone’s attention. We want to start educating people early, so that the habits of those that have become aware become intrinsic for the next generation. We believe it is crucial for the future state of the planet and its population for young people to be exposed to information regarding sources of their food as well as receiving fundamental nutritional education. It seems insane, given modern western society, that sex education is a fundamental feature in the curriculum throughout the years but theres is very little, if any at all, attention paid to the detrimental effects of poor diet and the consequences of waste and production by the food industry.

Telling kids not to waste food because people are starving in Africa, for example, does not cut it. Not only does it just scratch the surface of such issues, it is a scenario too far removed from their daily lives that sooner or later they cease to be shocked by such facts. Likewise, exposure to people starving on the streets sooner or later becomes part of normal daily life, allowing us to become guilty of ignoring such matters. The best we can do is provoke excitement rather than using pure shock tactics. The combination of excitement and shock upon receiving vast quantities of food to eat and cook with alongside the acknowledgement of the sheer volume of waste is an interesting one and something that has a long-lasting impact.

This is why we decided to go to Bridge Farm primary school, with a collection of surplus produce, in the hope to impart some of this feeling onto some 7-year olds. We were pleasantly surprised by their depth of knowledge about food waste, something which we thought to be quite unique. It would appear that that issues related to waste and the extent to which both the producers and the consumers contribute to the statistics are slowly being elucidated in our society, which is an excellent first step preceding real change. However, we want to go a step further and develop creative skills amongst young children, reignite excitement for food and promote the enjoyment of cooking. The latter of which has declined in recent decades for reasons varying from convenience to lack of knowledge, education and exposure.

Keeping it simple, the school proposed the design of a smoothie or soup which suited us due the high volumes of fruit and vegetables we receive on collection. We introduced the session in the morning by presenting our collection of food and opening up a discussion surrounding the following points; quality of food (what was fit for use and what wasn’t), the key indications of food that shouldn’t be eaten (using sight, smell and touch), and creating and developing ideas for use in meals. We based this activity on the way we conduct our Sunday cook sessions to give the children a contextualised explanation of what we at FoodCycle do whilst allowing them to be involved with their own ideas as much as possible.

school2Given the opportunity to handle the produce and express their ideas caused great excitement, which is exactly what we were hoping for. When it comes to quality, kids tend to be purists, they aren’t worried about sell by dates and can usually tell, with better accuracy than many of our Sunday volunteers, whether something is suitable for human consumption. How is it possible that a bunch of 7-year olds can have more common sense than the average adult? That is a question left unanswered and something for us each to consider individually… Self-questioning many of the decisions we make could go a long way towards true consideration for food and diet related issues.

school3The smoothies were made in the afternoon and served to the parents at the end of the day. The children were also encouraged to take home some of the produce that was not incorporated, which they did as they were brimming with ideas and possible new uses for vegetables or had discovered some obscure vegetable for the first time. We left them with some recipe cards, such as the banana cake recipe for which FoodCycle is famous for. These were designed to be easily followed and incorporated ingredients that are frequently wasted or would be likely to be found in most households. They also included suggestions for substitutions that could be made to encourage creative thinking with cooking. This was also to invoke the idea that recipes do not always have to be followed with such precision and that lack of resources, or allergies and intolerances, should not be a deterrent in the kitchen. We hope to develop these into a series which could become part of an educational package that can be used by schools or in conjunction with future activity days such as this one.

Any ideas are very welcome so if you have any recipes or just want to make some general comments or suggestions relating to food education don’t hesitate to send them to us, you can contact us via our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/foodcyclebrist or drop us an email: bristol@foodcycle.org.uk

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Leftovers – A Farm to Fork Exhibition

We’d like to invite you to join us at Leftovers – A Farm to Fork Exhibition from Joe Munro. Joe has been documenting the work of FoodCycle Bristol, and other local food organisations, and will be exhibiting this work at Bower Ashton Campus, Thursday 30th April, 6-9pm.

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From farm to fork, this exhibition recognises the importance of challenging our existing systems of food production and distribution. Mediums include fun, multi-sensual installations and brave, innovative visual journalism to highlight these issues.

The catalyst for this exhibition stems from the rise in both food waste and hunger within the UK. Through the combination of artistic and journalistic practice: ‘Leftovers’ will showcase documentary driven artwork that interrogates and challenges our conceptions and knowledge of existing systems of food production, distribution and waste in the UK. By recognising this subject matter also as a global issue, will reinforce the importance of documenting the positive steps projects are making locally within Bristol.

For examples of previous reportage driven projects visit : www.joemunro.com

FoodCycle’s February Pop-Up. Pop down for music, food (waste) and wonky vegetable fun!

Want to join the fight against food waste, at an evening with friends, music and fun? We’ve just the thing for you.

On Wednesday 11th February, FoodCycle Bristol, a charity aimed at tackling food waste and food poverty, will be hosting a Spring Pop-Up Restaurant, an evening guaranteed to be full of delicious food and fun!

A tasty three course vegetarian meal made entirely from surplus food will be served at The Station Kitchen at the Old Fire Station on Silver Street. The food will be collected from local shops, farms and supermarkets in Bristol, and then be whipped up to create a hearty and healthy meal, by a team of awesome volunteers. The evening will be jam packed with entertainment including live music and more. As usual B.Y.O.B so feel free to bring your own tipple.pop up

Every Sunday FoodCycle serves meals to those who attend Easton Community Centre in Bristol. We also work in partnership with other local organisations and welcome an eclectic mix of wonderful people into the extended dining room. Every week we collect surplus produce locally from Sainsbury’s and independent retailers and use these ingredients to prepare nutritious meals to be served to the community.

FoodCycle is a national charity with regional hubs. Our vision is “no good food wasted”, reducing food waste and food poverty. We provide nutritious meals to vulnerable people at risk of food poverty, by collecting surplus food from supermarkets and shops, and transforming these ingredients into a healthy three course meal for free! Our meal serves 30-60 guests at Easton Community Centre every Sunday. We also have community outreach and education projects.

Volunteers

All proceeds form the Pop-Up Restaurant will go towards supporting our project.

So if you fancy popping down for music, food (waste) and wonky vegetable fun, tickets cost a minimum £6 and are available via our Virgin Money Giving page.

 

 

 

 

FoodCycle cater for innovative art exhibition!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or, because we’re in Bristol now and not in America, let’s say ‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s r…r…ruddy good art?’ I may not have nailed the expression but Litterarti have certainly nailed the idea…

This past week the local art project have been hosting a number of free creative educational workshops centred around using waste in new and exciting ways. The exhibition, aptly named ‘A Waste of Space’, showcases all that has been put together by organisers, artists and participants from this week.

A diverse and fun range of sculptures, paintings and photography is on display aimed at inspiring a culture of recycling, upcycling and all-round sustainability. Their slogan ‘Transforming Litter into Art’ encapsulates this and squeezes together perfectly to give the group a jazzy, punny name of Litterarti.

FoodCycle Bristol have been cordially invited to cater for the day’s event. We will be cooking up some nutritious nibbly-bits using ingredients collected from our usual friendly donators. Canapés made from food which would normally be cast-off, fits in perfectly with the theme of the week, don’t you think? Sustainable food, sustainable art….sustainable fart! Let’s leave the puns to Litterarti, shall we?

So come on down to the Trinity Centre on Saturday afternoon 9th August to see all the fantastic pieces that have been collected from the week and to sample a little FoodCycle fare (we’re told there will be wine too!)

See Litterarti’s website for more info: http://www.litterarti.com/

Bristol Big Give

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This Wednesday FoodCycle Bristol collected food from The Victoria Rooms in Bristol.  The Food was donated by students across Bristol and sorted by volunteers at the Bristol Big Give.   Without the help of the Bristol Big Give these donations would not have existed, instead a total of ‘44 tonnes of clothes and goods’ would have gone to land fill.

IMG_0616– Items being sorted by Bristol Big Give volunteers at The Victoria Rooms

At FoodCycle Bristol we were able to fill our two cycle led trailers to the brim with dry goods to take to Easton Community Centre for our weekly community meals.  We massively appreciate this sort of donation; our weekly collections primarily consist of bread, fruit and veg.

IMG_0630–  FoodCycle Bristol volunteers taking the food to Easton Community Centre

As well as FoodCycle Bristol several Bristol based charities benefited from the hard work of Bristol Big Give volunteers including FareShare and One25.  Life Cycle specifically received bikes donated by students which they can use to input back in to the community through schemes such as Bike Back and The Family Cycling Project.

The Bristol Big Give is part of a National organisation ‘The Big Give’; a website that lets donors search for charities of interest in order to make donations go further.  This particular project has been an initiative in Bristol for the last 5 years.  In the past tonnes of unwanted items were wasted on streets and in landfill towards the end of Student tenancy.  This year donation points were set up in and around Student residence by early May.  As well as this numerous British Heart Foundation red bins were distributed across the city, in preparation for collections that culminated at the end of July.  Items were then sorted by volunteers over 3 days ready for charity collection.

Like FoodCycle Bristol on FB: http://www.facebook.com/foodcyclebrist Follow us on Twitter: @foodcyclebriz

Elisabeth Thomas

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– Bristol Big Give volunteers outside one of the British Heart Foundation red bins

FoodCycle Funlights

Exams are over, coursework is in and the sun is shining. As another academic year comes to an end, we are saying goodbye to some of the FoodCycle 2013-2014 managers (including myself…).

We thought it would be a great idea to give ourselves, our volunteers, guests, donators, collaborators and supporters a pat on the back and let you guy know about all the amazing things we have achieved this year. Here are our highlights!

 Community Kitchen at Easton

Most importantly, we run a weekly Community Kitchen at Easton, providing a healthy three-course meal (for free) for the community. We cook up ‘surplus’ food, which would otherwise be chucked out, collected and transported from local supermarkets and shops via pedal power.

Our kitchen serves anyone, but often those who are vulnerable to food poverty, may be homeless, mentally ill or socially isolated. Every Sunday, people can come and enjoy good food and chatting. If you haven’t come along, do! It is such good fun.

FoodCycle Community Kitchen

FoodCycle Community Kitchen

Branching out into the Community

This year, the creation of a core Community team has meant FoodCycle Bristol has branched out a whole lot more. Here’s how:

Kicking off the summer last year, we collaborated with our friends at Feed the 5,000 and FareShare SW at Feed the 5,000. This amazing event saw the inaugural outing of our education tent, along with foody games, face painting, arts and crafts and a pledge tree. In the summer sunshine, 4,324 people enjoyed curry made from ‘surplus’ food, learnt, engaged and shared ideas.

Our game 'Twisted'

Our game ‘Twisted’

We threw our forks in the air and also participated in the ‘Eat In’ with the Sustainable Food Trust. Check out this video!

Eat-In! Bristol short film

Our Community team have also begun a project, revamping the Easton Community Centre Community Garden. In October 2013, rain drenched and slightly cold, we began the epic task of sorting out the litter strewn and overgrown garden, along with the help of Avon Wildlife Trust. It’s now a pleasant space for growing herbs, learning about food and enjoying the great outdoors.

Community Garden

Community Garden

This May saw our Schools Project with Year 3 children at St Michael’s Primary School in Stoke Gifford. The children had already been looking at food waste issues, but two of our Community managers, Katie and Rosie, held an interactive workshop with the kids. Already very well informed, the children wrote letters to supermarkets stating their disgust at food waste and very politely asking for surplus food to cook a meal for their parents. With no prompt at all, the children organised an afterschool ‘food waste picnic’ with their lunchbox leftovers! With our help, the children collected waste food, chopped veg and cooked up a delicious three-course meal for their parents! So we know who our next generation of FoodCyclers are!

Inspiring letters

Inspiring letters

Raising Those Funds

We couldn’t function, innovate or develop without money, so we’ve also done heaps of fundraising this year as well.

Totally FoodCycle Brist stylee, we have held four of our famous Pop-Up Restaurants. Always absolutely chaotic but a right good laugh, they have been sold out each time. We’ve tried massively to reach out of the student bubble this year, and slowly but surely we’re spreading the word. With fresh local music, art and great co-host charities and organisations, each night has been different, quirky and fun. I think the BYOB policy helps too!

A selection of BUJO at our October Pop-Up

A selection of BUJO at our October Pop-Up

February saw the Breadline Challenge, where many managers took up the challenge to live on £18 for the week. We all learnt a lot of useful tips for cutting corners when it comes to food and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Not only that, but we raised about £1,000, which is absolutely fantastic and will keep a hub running for about 2 months! So say, about 30 meals for each kitchen, that’s 30 x 8… 240 meals!

breadline

Breadline Challenge; Illustration by Lizstration, http://www.lizstration.com

Outside Catering

We have also had the upmost pleasure of catering for two University of Bristol conferences: RISE (Social Enterprise Conference) and the International Development Conference, as well as Beat the Cold at Easton Community Centre.

Beat the Cold

Beat the Cold

It’s been a fantastic year, but we couldn’t do this on our own. We want to say a VERY BIG THANK YOU to Sainsbury’s on The Triangle, and our local suppliers in Easton: Sweet Mart, Star Cash & Carry, Al Noor, Raja, Good Food Plus, Chelsea Mini Mart.

And last but most definitely not least we want to say a huge thank you to ALL OF OUR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS. None of this could happen without you!

Like us on FB: http://www.facebook.com/foodcyclebrist Follow us on Twitter: @foodcyclebriz

Danielle Jackson

Help Hussein

Help Hussein At FoodCycle Bristol we really value our regular volunteers, who come along week in week out and make the kitchen what it is. Hussein is one of those special volunteers. He comes from Chad and has been cooking with us every week for almost three months. We really appreciate his contribution, as he brings a great deal of laughter, warmth and skill to the FoodCycle kitchen. He is a very conscientious volunteer, and can be relied upon to be with us every week and to always put enthusiasm and attention into everything he does. He is an inspiration to us all. We are all very upset to hear that Hussein is facing an extremely difficult situation at the moment. He is being held in a detention centre and on 20th June he faces deportation from the UK.

You can read more about his case in the petition below, which asks Teresa May for him to be allowed to claim asylum here. Petition: Hussein Must Stay https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/hussein-must-stay We have signed this petition and would like to encourage as many people as possible to support him too. We are very worried and would really like to see him back, safe and sound with us.

hussian 2 Celebrating 5 years of FoodCycle  

Some comments from hub leaders and volunteers about Hussein’s contribution toFoodCycle:

Hussein is ALWAYS smiling and brings a lot of positivity to the kitchen. He works really hard too. I am really slow at chopping the veg, and Hussein spent time with me, teaching me to chop like lightening, like he does (without cutting my fingers!)” – Katie (Community/ Education manager)

Hussein has always been a very nice, diligent, hard working volunteer. Always laughing and joking” – Dario (Cooking Manager)

He is diligent and always nice to people. He really likes to ride his bike too” – Sanghoon (regular volunteer)

“I was there on the very first week that Hussein volunteered in the kitchen for us, and I remember being struck by just how easy he made everything, by quietly noting what jobs needed to be done, and getting on with them on a smile on his face without asking me continually for guidance and tasks” – Ellen (Cooking manager)

………………………………………………….. Please sign: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/hussein-must-stay

FoodCycle Advisory Meeting – celebrating success, forming new ideas and chatting about other FoodCycle-y matters!

On Monday 17th March, old minds, new minds and members of the community (call it a ‘council of elders’) met up to think about all things FoodCycle!

The advisory board meeting, consisting of volunteers, managers, community members and local food, community & environmental organisations, creates a lively forum for discussion of problems, ideas, projects and solutions!

Top of the agenda was how to expand FoodCycle’s platform for social change. We’re ever seeking new perspectives to keep our projects fresh and innovative.

If you’ve got any ideas, would like to be involved, or just fancy finding out more about what exactly was said in the meeting, please e-mail Claire at foodcyclebristol@gmail.com

Kicking off a new year of pop-up restaurants!

What a lovely start to the week, and for FoodCycle a new year of pop-up restaurants! On Monday 24th February, we hosted our first pop-up restaurant of the year, and had a really fabulous night – we hope you did as well.

As always, our inventive cooking team cooked up another three-course, healthy, veggie storm of culinary wonders! Armed with creativity and a whole load of surplus veg, our cooking managers Ellen and Nell, along with an army of eager veg-chopping volunteers, produced some gorgeous and interesting combinations. (I was particularly a fan of mango and cucumber salad, especially with a generous handful of fresh coriander!)

Spicy, fruity cucumber salad - mm mm mm.

Spicy, fruity cucumber salad – mm mm mm

Starter – Spicy, fruity cucumber salad with garlic bread

Main – Italian vegetable stew with potato

Dessert – Banana bread with fruit syrup

During the courses, we enjoyed some wonderful fresh local talent from Josh Evans and Sarah RK, which set a relaxing mood for the evening.

Our main focus of the evening was on promoting the ongoing work of FoodCycle to overcome the disparity between food poverty and food waste, as well as social isolation. A FoodCycle Bristol veteran, Jon, came back to visit us and gave us a charismatic and engaging talk on why he set FoodCycle Bristol up and what we’re all about.

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Jon!

It’s (sadly) getting to the time of year when all our managers are starting to think about what they’re going to be doing next year. Some of us are leaving, some of us are staying, and to quote pop-up manager Lizzie, “… some of us can’t be bothered anymore or whatever…”

What that means for you guys is that soon we will be recruiting for positions of the manager team for the next academic year. At the pop-up restaurant, each team in turn explained their role and position within the FoodCycle matrix. The teams are:

  • Pop-up Restaurant
  • Transport
  • Cooking
  • Community
  • Communications and Publicity
  • Co-ordination (Co-ordinator and Treasurer)

We all have very different, yet fulfilling and interesting roles, which utilise and develop different skills. If you are having a wonder about being a manager, why not try out volunteering and see how you like it? Or for more information, e-mail foodcylebristol@gmail.com.

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Managers – old and new

We would like to say a massive thank you to all our guests and of course our wonderful volunteers for making it such a great night!

We’re back in a month’s time for 24th March – see you then!

Danielle Jackson

Lizzie’s Breadline Blog – Day 7 – Sunday 9th Feb

I’m not going to lie and say I found a week living under the breadline difficult, or that I was hungry at any point or suffered any cravings that I couldn’t afford to fulfil – not that I think going a week without anything would justify craving due to malnourishment anyway. That being said, I did find that I was swapping, for example, a lot of the protein in my regular diet for cheap carbohydrates such as white bread which resulted in me becoming irritable and lethargic. In the evenings, I cooked the meals I would generally cook any other week; however this took careful planning and meant that I had to be a lot less liberal with the spice rack and the variety of ingredients in each meal, particularly rationing the selection of fresh vegetables. I would say that the majority of my weekly spend on food goes on a wide selection of fresh vegetables so this was what I was most worried about missing, although a delivery of a vegetable selection box from a local farm (approx. £5 pppw) was adequate. Additionally, I have to say that the money that I spent on food for the week came from a budget that three of us doing the challenge had put together. This allowed for much more variety than I would have been able to achieve had I been doing this alone, I can imagine for people living alone and on this kind of weekly budget it is probably not economical to cook a wide selection of meals from fresh ingredients however cheap it appears when meticulously costed. There are definitely ways to eat well cheaply, local businesses tend to be considerably cheaper than supermarkets for a start, although it is a case of seeking these out which people may often not have the time for. The main difficulty with this budget is that, though manageable, it requires a large amount of organisation and means going without the small luxuries to which one can become accustomed without even realising they are luxuries. Going a week without endless cups of tea, sitting out of a meal for a friend’s birthday and not being able to pay entry to clubs or drink in the pub at the weekend was not the most difficult thing to do. Had you asked me what I thought after a month, or even two weeks, on this budget I would probably have a very different view.

Aside from the things the £18 a week budget caused us to “go without”, my concern is not that people are going hungry, but that poor nourishment is a much greater problem as it is detrimental to both physical and mental well-being. I’m not saying that a well-balanced diet is not achievable with this budget and that everyone living on it eats badly (or that people with more money eat much better) but I can imagine it gets increasingly more difficult and requires a lot more thought, creativity and time. Particularly with obesity being a national problem this is something that should be considered.

My week ended at the FoodCycle community kitchen. I really came to look forward to it and received the three course meal with a whole new sense of appreciation. We were served a pear salad with garlic bread for the starter, a really tasty and very nutritious beany vegetable stew followed by a chocolaty banana pudding; I would like to take the opportunity here to say well done and thank you to everyone who was volunteering and managing today, I’ve definitely been filled up for the rest of the evening and it was delicious! While it is appalling to think that all this food is supposedly “waste” (and this is from just a few tiny shops in one city) its amazing that it can be put to good use. It makes you think though…. If just some of this food could be dished out to those who need it direct from the shops every week or even every day rather than going straight into the skip, just think about how that £18 a week could be spent differently. Despite all the controversy surrounding this challenge, and it must be noted that none of us believe we have truly experienced what it is like to live below the breadline after just one week, but I am really proud that as a team we have managed to raise so much to support all that FoodCycle is doing so a massive thank you to everyone who has donated.