Recycling Lives celebrates serving One Million Meals

Recycling Lives is celebrating reaching a massive milestone in its charity activities – delivering One Million Meals from its food charity.

The Food Redistribution Centre has redistributed the equivalent of 1,000,000 meals via its network of members. Each of these charitable organisations uses the food and goods to not only tackle food poverty and reduce food waste, but also save their often-scarce resources and support people in other ways.

Recycling Lives opened the Centre in partnership with FareShare in October 2015, the Lancashire and Cumbria arm of the national charity. Since then its team – recently named Team of the Year in the National Recycling Awards, no less – have ensured its sustained growth, now working with 100 members to deliver 13,000 meals a week which feed around 5,000 people across the North West.

Working with food suppliers and supermarkets, it redistributes the surplus goods which would have otherwise gone to waste, in the process diverting 430 tonnes of quality, in-date goods from going to landfill.

Jeff Green, manager of the Food Redistribution Centre, said:

“It is a fantastic milestone for us to reach One Million Meals. We are privileged to be able to do the work we do and work with 100 charitable organisations to get food to those who need it most.

“In many cases it is about much more than just the food – by providing it our CFMs can then support people in education, employment, health, homelessness, finances, family and much more, and also invest their often-scarce resources in other areas.”

At Astley Lodge in Chorley, staff have used food collections from the Centre as a tool for learning. Residents, who would otherwise be homeless, have undertaken courses in food hygiene and safety to boost their skills and self-confidence. Jill Charnock, senior service manager at Astley Lodge, said:  “The benefits go far beyond the food…it creates social and learning opportunities.” Taking collections of food has also reduced Astley Lodge’s running costs, allowing it to invest resources elsewhere.

At St Catherine’s Hospice, in Lostock Hall, the food means patients can have a variety of ingredients and meals to choose from, to help them with certain conditions or symptoms. Nicola Hamner, catering manager at the hospice, said: “The food helps us to meet individual diet preferences – helping to improve patients’ quality of life.” The food helps towards the hospice providing four-meals-a-day to its in-patients and lunches for patients of its day therapy unit.

Lancaster Community Club bosses say they’re proud to be able to not only tackle food poverty but also be reducing food waste, by using the Food Redistribution Centre. Volunteer leader Deborah Finn said: “Everyone marvels at the types and quality of food that was going to end up as waste.” It supplies goods to families facing food poverty through a co-operative model and “simply wouldn’t exist” without being a member of the food charity, its leaders say.

Recycling Lives’ Food Redistribution Centre created a social value worth £1.7m from this food charity in 2015/16 alone, by saving its members an average of £8,000 a year in food costs and delivering valuable meals to people in-need. This is on top of the £2.4m social value it created from its offender rehabilitation work, creating work and training opportunities which significantly reduce reoffending rates.

Recycling Lives charitable activities are directly supported and sustained by its commercial operations in recycling and waste management.