Volunteers from Sheffield’s two universities and the City College cooked up a free, tasty meal to feed more than 1000 people last week. The ‘Big Stew’ took place at three sites across the city, and aimed to bring issues of food waste and food poverty to the forefront of people’s minds.
The stew was made entirely from surplus food – ingredients sourced by project partners FareShare Yorkshire and Grow Sheffield - that were perfectly edible, but would otherwise have gone to waste. The event was also supported by local sauce company Henderson’s Relish who donated bottles of relish to each Big Stew site for people to add some quintessentially Sheffield flavour to their stew.
Food is a key part of everyday life, and the Sheffield on a Plate project has been working to raise awareness of the issues of food poverty – a growing problem in the city – and food waste.
FareShare report that 5.8 million people in the UK live in ‘deep poverty’, struggling to afford everyday essentials, including food. At the same time, 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food and drink industry. FareShare estimates 10% of this food is surplus and fit for consumption, enough food for 800 million meals.
Jack Wyse, Development Officer at the University of Sheffield Students’ Union said that “the UK Food industry wastes a staggering 15 million tonnes of food per year. At the same time, the Sheffield City Council Food Strategy highlights that over 40,000 people in Sheffield are in food poverty. The Big Stew event will highlight how students can contribute to solutions to these issues through their everyday habits and getting involved with local projects”
The Sheffield on a Plate project has been engaging students across the city on growing their own food, sourcing and cooking with local and sustainable ingredients, as well as running food drives to encourage donations to local food banks. At the Big Stew event 800 students were inspired to make pledges to take a variety of actions, from reducing their own food waste to buying locally.