Students become good neighbours to reduce food waste and support their local community

Students become good neighbours to reduce food waste and support their local community

An Aberdeen student group has prevented thousands of kilograms of food going to waste and supported the local community through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Foodsharing Service, which forms part of the University of Aberdeen’s Shared Planet Society, has distributed surplus food from supermarkets to those in need and those unable to leave their homes as a result of the virus.

The group, made up of student volunteers, collects food from supermarkets which cannot be sold because of mislabelling or over supply as part of the FareShare scheme at selected local stores.

Prior to the pandemic the Foodsharing Service operated in the Student Union Building and students could visit to collect what they needed – with the main focus on reducing food sent to landfill.

But when restrictions were implemented in March, they quickly recognized that they could fulfil a wider need within the local community.

Anna Kebke, coordinator of the group and a fourth year Marine Biology student, said: “We had established relationships with a range of local supermarkets and the University’s own catering services and they provide us with slots at which surplus food, which would otherwise be disposed of, can be collected.

“The food is often seasonal and we receive a wide variety of items, excluding meat-based products.

“A number of our volunteers recognized that their neighbours would benefit from the service we offer because they were vulnerable to Covid-19 or shielding and we expanded what we offer to the wider community.”

The student volunteers continued to collect food from supermarkets and then divided it into packages and provided delivery.

Between March and December they gave away hundreds of food packages and prevented around 15,000kg of food going to landfill, with the food donated by Tesco alone equating to more than 20,000 meals.

Anna, who fits in her role as a volunteer around her studies and caring for her three-year-old daughter, said the student volunteers had all shown great commitment to helping their local communities.

“We set up a Facebook page and a mailing list so that people could contact us if they could benefit from one of our food packages.

“Our volunteers have been fantastic, going out in all weathers – often on bicycles – to drop of supplies in the areas around the University.”

The Foodsharing Service is continuing to operate in a limited form with volunteers who have remained in Aberdeen and is hoping to get back up to full capacity once students are able to return.

The group’s page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/sharedplanetsociety The group are also seeking additional student and staff volunteers. Anyone interested should contact thecorner@abdn.ac.uk