At the local twice-weekly market, my husband snaps up soft fruit and wilting vegetables, which are sold cheaply at the end of the day. Although the food must be eaten that night, it helps our budget and prevents waste.
Back in 1917 England during World War One, government ministers had agonised over the best way of combating hunger while Germany's U-boats disrupted Britain's food supply.
Public canteens were set up to feed people. They proved hugely popular amongst the poor people during times of austerity. These self-service restaurants, run by local workers and partly funded by government grants, offered simple meals at subsidised prices.
Keen to avoid the stigma of poverty associated with soup kitchen hand-outs, they formed a network of public cafeteria known as "national kitchens".
Now, considering the shocking waste of fresh food in outlets, and with so many desperate people who can't make ends meet, efforts are being made to bring them back. A senior lecturer at UKs Liverpool Hope University has researched the WW1 kitchens and believes there are parallels with today's food banks.
His investigation, funded by the Wellcome Trust, shows how community kitchens were run by charities and trade unionists. The Trussell Trust network has grown to 445 food banks. Around 500,000 different people have received help over a 12-month period.
According to the charity, the most common reason for people's food needs came from benefit payment delays and sanctions. But more than a fifth of food bank users were referred because of low incomes, including people in low-paid, zero-hours or part-time work. The charity only has the storage facilities to hand out non-perishable items like pasta, cereal and cans, though a small number do offer fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Trust would like to see supermarkets get involved by donating fresh produce too. Source: BBC.
A local councillor in a Paris suburb began his campaign by collecting the unsold food and handing it out to the needy.
While broadly welcoming the law, charities are wary about ending up with more food than they can handle.
The president of the French Federation of Food Banks (FFBA) says there is a risk charities will not be able to cope with unneeded donations which would make them rubbish dumps. Food banks would need more staff, more lorries, more refrigerated rooms, which requires more money. Source: BBC.
Surely, money spent on serving fresh food, which would otherwise be wasted, would be the perfect solution. The human population explosion is already straining Earth's plump apple skin to bursting point. There is enough food for all as the situation stands at the moment. Why let people starve when resources can be used? The solution boils down to funds—to money. I'd rather governments used the wealth they collect from us to feed the world instead of financing war.
In the late 1960's in Australia where I lived at the time, I volunteered to serve food with the Meals-on-wheels organization. My local branch accepted me along with my four-year-old daughter into their fold. We'd walk along the quiet street to the kitchen and watch the cook ladling food into huge canisters. Along with our driver, I'd carry some to the boot of the car, and then we'd be off, visiting seniors in their homes. Some of them looked forward to seeing my sweet, quiet child, others ignored her, but all were grateful for the food served straight onto their plate which they'd left in readiness on the table.
Do you have a solution to prevent food waste?