Transition Bro Gwaun’s Surplus Food Project is a not-for-profit enterprise that cuts food waste and saves carbon by stopping food going to landfill. Volunteers and staff collect perfectly good food that local shops and businesses would otherwise throw away. Between June 2013 – November 2017 this food was used to make affordable, healthy meals and preserves for sale in Transition Cafe. When the cafe closed in November 2017 we opened Fishguard & Goodwick Community Fridge, to continue sharing the wealth of food available from local shops, businesses and people, and stop it being wasted.
The Surplus Food Project has successfully promoted the Transition Network’s messages of sustainability, carbon reduction and economic resilience within our community. Transition Cafe attracted a much wider range of people, both as volunteers and users, than have previously engaged in TBG’s environmental initiatives. Continuing this trend we have seen that the Community Fridge draws in people who had not visited Transition Cafe and many people really value the food available.
What We Do
We protect the environment:
- In 2016-17 Transition Cafe prevented an average of 900 kilos of food per month going to landfill – so making large carbon savings in our area each year.
- We collect food from a limited radius so keeping food miles low.
- We collect mainly products with a short shelf life (these are the products most likely to get thrown away).
- Food we can’t use, we give away for animal feed, composting, or to a bio-digester.
- And we re-cycle our waste in accordance with a WRAP waste reduction plan.
We are changing attitudes and behaviour. Transition Cafe became a community hub with informal discussions on many ‘green’ topics occurring over good food and drink, and meetings held on a wide range of environmental, community and economic issues. Similar activities will continue through Transition Bro Gwaun’s ongoing work now based at The Abergwaun Gateway Club. Whilst some projects link surplus food with food poverty we think surplus food and reducing food waste should be of concern to everybody.
The link between surplus food and food poverty meant that some people were resistant to using the cafe. However, we witnessed an increase in people from all sections of our community who came to eat our meals and spread the message that waste is bad for both the environment and our economy and (most importantly!) that it’s OK and safe to eat surplus food. The opening of the community fridge is a continuation of the surplus food project and continues to attract a diversity of people from our community, as volunteers running the fridge as well as fridge users.
Food values. Whilst we care about people who are in food poverty we do not think the answer to this problem is to give ‘poor people’ surplus food, in other words food that other people throw away. In fact we find this insulting and stigmaitising. We want to change how people value food – the energy, time and resources that go into all our food is too precious to waste. The Food Values Report by Jane Powell and Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones is really interesting for anyone wanting to read more on this subject. With our Make a Meal of It project we are working with businesses, charities and other groups to make the most of food and reduce waste.
We are strengthening the local economy and improving social capital by providing training, employment and work experience opportunities for local people, including the young, the disabled and the long-term unemployed. For evidence of this see our 2017 Financial Impact Survey.
Crucially, we offer an holistic, sustainable business model. We made money from Transition Cafe sales but of equal importance to the viability of our project was that we made full use of community exchange, gifting, re-using and re-cycling and our all important volunteers, whose time was valued in match funding at £32,693.37 in 2016.
Awards and Funding
We received financial, voluntary and gifted support from a wide range of local businesses and people when setting up the cafe in 2012-2013. In 2014 Transition Cafe won the Sustainable Communities competition at the Hay Festival and received a grant to help develop its services. The Wales Co-operative Centre funded a business plan to evaluate current growth options and to identify ways of expanding and making our project more financially viable. In October 2015 we gained a grant from the Big Lottery Awards for All to further expand the surplus food project and run activities open to all. We received funding from Environment Wales for a part-time project development officer from 2013 until March 2017.
In March 2017 we were selected as a winner by the expert jury of the EU REFRESH Food Waste Solution contest, a great recognition for the work done by our many supporters and customers, dedicated volunteers, directors and staff since 2012. The Co-op supermarket in Fishguard nominated us as one of the beneficiaries of their charitable donations scheme in 2017.
In April 2017 we began an 18-month project aimed at extending the reach of our project. The Make a Meal of It project provides advice to businesses, charities and other groups to develop their own surplus food projects in Pembrokeshire, to raise awareness of food waste, and how to reduce food waste. This project is funded by LEADER Arwain Sir Benfro and Sainsburys.
We have used this support to
- Explore more ways of changing attitudes about food waste and sustainability
- Develop our marketing strategy and improve our use of social media
- Expand cafe services e.g. early evening meals, take-aways, evening suppers and event catering
- Engage with more families and young people, through recycled craft and upcycling activities
- Target the tourist market through a green tourism initiative
- Find more suppliers of surplus food and new outlets for distributing it, plus more storage facilities
- Distribute food to local organisations via Transition Redistribution of Food (TROF)
- Provide advice to those wishing to replicate our project or set up their own surplus food project
- Deliver cookery workshops on a variety of topics, some using materials from Love Food Hate Waste
- Open the first community fridge in Wales (although Pobol y Cwm did have the first fictional community fridge, da iawn!)
TBG Surplus Food Project is a signatory or partner with the following:
WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme)
FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies)
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN)
REFRESH (Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply Chain)