Huge amounts of leftover supermarket Christmas food is being given away for free in Liverpool
3 months ago
Huge amounts of leftover supermarket Christmas food will be given away free this Christmas Eve to save it from being binned.
Zero Waste Liverpool has more than 100 volunteers going out to supermarkets across the region to collect mostly unsold fresh produce that would otherwise have to be scrapped as the shops prepare to close for Christmas Day.
Everything from piles of veg for Christmas dinner to fresh turkeys, pastries and even Christmas wrapping paper will be rescued and handed out at collection points in Dovecot and Liverpool 19.
Zero Waste Liverpool is trying to make food saving a Christmas tradition in the city and it’s encouraging anyone to go along with bags and fill them up.
Kathryn Bowman, who set up the group with her husband Dave and a friend in May 2021, stresses it’s not a food bank or food pantry, it’s about stopping food waste.
“A lot of people who come to our collections do need it, but a lot don’t, and because everyone is standing in a queue together it works,” she explains. “It’s about the environmental benefit of zero waste so anyone can come along – the carrots and parsnips don’t care if you’re a millionaire, as long as they get used and don’t end up in the bin!”
The group has increased its Christmas Eve sessions this year after a manic 2022.
“The volume of food was so much, our volunteers weren’t getting home until 1am so we were exhausted, and people were queuing two hours for the food,” says Kathryn. “This year we’ve decided to have a lunchtime one in Dovecot, then two evening ones in Dovecot and L19 where we’ll be until 9pm or until the food runs out.
“We’ve built up a network of supermarkets and shops including Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Pret, Tesco, Co-op, Iceland, and Farmfoods and we split them up geographically.
“It’s like a military operation so our volunteers will be out from first thing in the morning and then they collect, drop off and keep refreshing the stock so it’s being added to all the time.
“People just need to come along with lots of big bags and pack them up. There’s usually no limit on veg and bread because we have so much of that, and everything else depends on what’s there because obviously we need to be fair to everyone.”
Zero Waste Liverpool has regular collections every day of the week at various locations including Kirkby, Prescot, Hunts Cross, Speke and Litherland.
But Kathryn says Christmas is always the biggest one of the year, especially with some stores choosing to stay closed on Boxing Day too.
“It’s all good stuff, it’s come straight off the shelves so it’s not past its best, it just needs to go to a good home. The amount veg we get is ridiculous because in the run-up to Christmas that’s the supermarkets’ loss leader, they cut the prices right down, so we end up with pallets and pallets of it.
“The first year we did this, we had to leave pallets of food behind but now we’ve got a better idea of the scale so we can cover more, and we’ll often have two or three cars going out to each shop and loading up.”
Kathryn says in addition to fresh food, they’ve been saving extra Christmas bits like wrapping paper, gift bags, tags and bows at a storage unit which they raise money to fund.
“Last year, lots of the shops had surplus stock even once they’d reduced it after Christmas and they needed the space for new season products, so we collected that and put it in storage. We do the same with Easter and Halloween, and we keep it until the week before and then give it out when it’s needed.”
Zero Waste Liverpool has three Christmas Eve open events, everyone is welcome and everything is free:
* Church of the Holy Spirit, Dovecot 12pm-1pm
* All Souls, L19 5pm-9pm (or until all food is gone)
* Church of the Holy Spirit, Dovecot 5pm-9pm (or until all food is gone)
Find out more about Zero Waste Liverpool HERE.