Head of Food Education at Edinburgh Food Social and co-founder of Food for Good Edinburgh Steve Brown takes us through Food for Good’s commitment to sustainability.
Thinking back to the initial hours, days and weeks of the coronavirus crisis, we could never have imagined that Food for Good would grow into what it is today. We made literally hundreds of phone calls, had frantic conversations about kitchens and menus and even held a physically distanced meeting in a park (before lockdown, of course).
Over the past 10 weeks, we are proud to have formed a team that is not only supporting Edinburgh’s residents with nutritious food, but is doing so with clear values of community, dignity and sustainability.
I’d like to tell you a little more about what that last word, sustainability, means to me, and to all of us at Food for Good.
Today, businesses overuse and exploit the word ‘sustainability’ to sell us everything from take-away coffee to insurance. At its core though, sustainability means using resources at a level that does not harm people or planet. Food for Good is made up of individuals from a range of organisations and backgrounds, all with a passion for sustainability.
We practise sustainability across four key areas; our food, our people, our packaging and our distribution.
Running an extensive emergency food response in the middle of the ‘hungry gap’ has thrown up a few challenges! Each April, May and early June, the UK’s winter crops end before new season produce is ready to harvest. There’s not much coming out of the ground in Scotland during these ‘hungry gap’ weeks, so we’ve had to be creative with our cookery, as well as our sourcing.
We spoke to farmers, growers and producers to find out what was good, and what might be in surplus. These conversations have led to some fantastic relationships with local suppliers like The Really Garlicky Company, Lunan Bay Farm (for their delicious asparagus!) and Peelham Farm.
These brilliant suppliers make it possible for us to pack our meals with the goodness of seasonal, local produce.
Any organisation is only as strong as its people and we are truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with our team of chefs, drivers, packers, labellers, call handlers and logistical wizards.
Many of these folk are volunteers, furloughed from their regular jobs, who choose to invest their time with us – something that constantly knocks our socks off.
To us, an important part of sustainability is keeping our people happy and safe at all times. We have our own in-house health and safety officer to help the kitchens stay safe. We regularly check in with our teams and provide people with the tools that they need to do their jobs. From time-to-time, we also drop in a wee case of something to keep people refreshed either during, or at the end of their shift – big ups to Bon Accord and Barney’s Beer!
We’re also proud to financially support a number of our workers who wouldn’t otherwise have an income due to COVID-19.
Given that we cook and distribute over 4000 meals every week, we use a lot of packaging! In a landscape fraught with tricky decisions we are proud to work with Biopak. These folks make sustainable packaging that can be popped into the freezer, oven and microwave.
Biopak makes their packaging from sugar pulp, a byproduct of the sugar industry. In addition, Biopak are members of the Ellen McArthur Foundation, reinvest their profits into charitable enterprises and are 100% carbon neutral.
Getting our meals to people living all over the city is no mean feat.
We’re delighted to be able to deliver most of our meals by bicycle with our friends at Farr Out. Not only do these journeys keep our delivery drivers fit and healthy, but they’ve saved us over 200kg of CO2 emissions* each and every week.
So, you can see we have lots to be proud of since those early days!
If you’d like to find out more, or chat to us about our commitment to sustainability, please get in touch.
Take care and stay safe,
Steve Brown is Head of Food Education at Edinburgh Food Social (EFS) and, as part of his work with EFS, co-founded Food for Good.
* Calculated using Commercial Fleet’s carbon footprint calculator)