Brighton’s Food Waste Collective to run ‘making use of surplus food’ event

I met a woman last week in a cafe in Eastbourne.  Her name was Tam, a young Buddhist with a passion for helping others less fortunate. She is a member of the Brighton Food Waste Collective and she’d come from Brighton to interview me about the ‘making use of surplus food’ initiative I set up in Lewes in 2012.

Tam and her team are going to be running an event in a couple of week’s time which I’d heartliy endorse and not just because Maria Ana Neves of Plan Zheroes (she was a great hit in Lewes) is speaking.

food waste collective event posterTo be held at Brighthelm Cafe in North Road Brighton its going to be a real opportunity for donors and charities to come together and see how they might make use of a host of willing volunteers keen to make a difference.

In the hope it might help others who are thinking about a similar activity I want to share something from the excellent interview notes Tam took and published.

‘He said that there are the two ends, who wants and who has to give but it is the middle that creates the logistical nightmares – the getting the food from a to b. I talked about there having to have leaders and ideas people and the technology of the map but also we need the “foot soldiers” – the bodies, cars and bicycles to move daily food from a to b. This is what our event can find. People! Willing people! Hurray 🙂

Paul then asked if I would like some advice, I said yes please! He said “my experience tells me that…” in a nutshell he suggested starting small and high lighting six charities representing “demand”, and six restaurants or shops representing “supply” then set a finite time scale of six months to put only those twelve into action. Make pilot projects! Then he suggests we re-assess and see what has worked? What has failed? Why? He suggested treating it like a research project. He suggested using Google Groups (?) He said “Don’t spread yourself too thin!” Also, which I adored, “Don’t attempt to boil the ocean!”

Paul suggested making objectives: Can we identify the demand? Can we identify the supply? Develop a picture. Two ends – who wants? Who has to give? Make a brief: identify potential charities to supply to….

Paul talked about reverse brain storming – I love this – it’s a technique where you ask the people at the event “what are the best ways to prevent the food getting from a to b?” “How can we make sure the food is wasted/rots/has to go in the landfill?” “How would you ensure that the surplus food re-distribution chain would not work?” He described how he uses this technique in his professional life to get folks’ brains to work in a different way.’

Plan Zheroes is moving ahead apace with plans to be come a registered charity and I am honoured to have been invited to become one of the founding Trustees to provide a focus on knowledge sharing. This is what sets Plan Zheroes apart.  As its evolving technology platforms get completed it will be able to provide an instant view of where surplus food is located and so match the charities who need it with those who have it to give.  It’s skill is then in coming up with innovative solutions on how to get it from A-B.

And by making the knowledge of how to set up an initiative (and a guide for volunteer management) Plan Zheroes is attempting to help replicate the model (here and overseas) that is working so well in London.

Good luck Tam and the Brighton Food Waste Collective!

6 thoughts on “Brighton’s Food Waste Collective to run ‘making use of surplus food’ event

  1. This is such inspiring stuff, and certainly full of great tactics for getting groups thinking about how to start a project and overcome challenges. Specifically the reverse brainstorming approach, which we’ll definitely try out at Saturday’s event.

    Also, the point that the biggest challenge is getting food from donor A to charity B is salient here. I think to me at least, this event is about getting people together, recognising that there are donors and recipients, and thinking about the most efficient and doable journeys that food can take. This is the ACTION bit.

    Thanks again for your input Paul and looking forward to meeting you.


    • Hi Vera I will be overseas this weekend, however the team from Plan Zheroes is a steller one and includes a sustainability award winner. I will tell you, Hannah and Tam more in due course. I know you will do a great job – the reverse brainstorm works well – I coached a mentee in Tanzania on it via Skype and he used it successfully on a recent assignment in South Africa!

      Friday week I am going to be back in the UK and expect to be working with the PZ team on a corporate social responsibility (CSR) day for a financial services organisation. I’d be happy to brief you and those who you attract on that in due course. Its a great way of getting organisations to fullfil their CSR mandate while giving the staff a valuable event (with real outcomes and good team building).

      Lots to get excited about and the weather looks set fair for you.

    An award winning ‘Zheroe’, Paolo Sparapassi, will be attending this event on behalf of Plan Zheroes.
    Paolo who has over 20 years experience in the food retail industry was the coordinator for Paul UK as they sought to ensure their surplus food went to groups that needed it. Their programme won the 2012 Springboard Award for Excellence for Corporate Social Responsibility.

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