A perspective on food waste, sustainability and getting involved.

Sheffield is a creative city full of innovators, makers and solvers of all manner of digital, industrial and social issues. It’s a City with a beating heart of artisans who create wonderful products and really care about the provenance of their ingredients.

We’re also real here in Sheffield. We’re pragmatic and we like value. We don’t like waste and we care deeply for our natural environment.

So, what happens when these worlds collide? The makers, the doers, the social entrepreneurs and the helpers?

Something amazing happens for people, produce and planet…

Over the past 4 years a group of people, spanning from 1 in 2015 to over 200 in 2019, have worked to create a more fair and sustainable food system.

Born to raise awareness of and to reduce food waste; Food Works (formerly The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield), began as a volunteer led project headed up by Jo Hercberg. Jo had a vision to bring the pay-as-you-feel concept to Sheffield and was soon inundated with people and food businesses wanting to work together to reduce food waste across the city.

Fast forward just 4 years and Food Works now employs 8 people, operates 3 sites and saves over 1 tonne of food everyday in Sheffield. Only one small wheelie bin of food waste goes to anaerobic digestion from 7 tonnes each week. The rest of it is used in Food Works’ pay-as-you-feel community cafés, social supermarket, catering function, schools programme and Green Box scheme.

Sustainability is key to Food Works’ mission.

The social enterprise is a self funded non-profit to keep access open to everyone in the city. Environmental sustainability is of prime importance and ‘Juan’ the electric van zips around Sheffield collecting surplus food 7 days a week.

Sheffield has grasped the concept that food waste is a huge environmental problem and a silly problem. However, it’s what we do next that matters.

Food Works would not exist if it wasn’t for the people of Sheffield getting behind the idea.  People have been volunteering, eating at events and using the many services that Food Works offers.

The food businesses of Sheffield, from large institutions such as Sheffield Hallam University to small bakeries, have shown much willing over the years to work with Food Works to reduce their food waste.

Making food work for Sheffield means different things to different people. To some it’s about making food available, accessible and affordable. For others it’s making a city where food businesses can thrive, educating the next generation and providing areas for growing and improving cooking skills across the board. These are all big tasks and need a coordinated effort to solve them.

Luckily for Sheffield, Food Works are working with Sustainable Food Cities to bring this into fruition!

To get involved with Food Works Sheffield you can: