Liverpool zero waste group is giving away unsold supermarket food on Christmas Eve
1 year ago
A Liverpool food waste group which aims to prevent tonnes of produce from going to landfill every year, will be giving away huge amounts of unsold supermarket food on Christmas Eve.
Liverpool Zero Waste Community will have a team of around 90 volunteers going out as shops are preparing to close to pick up everything from fresh turkeys and chicken to sprouts and selection boxes, as well as staples like bread.
They’ll then be taken to All Souls Church on Springwood Avenue in Allerton where people can come along with bags and collect as much as they need for free. They can even fill up for neighbours or family members who can’t get there themselves.
Kathryn Bowman, who set up the group with her husband Dave and friend Pam Constance in May 2021, says the whole aim is to find a good home for as much food as possible, so it’s used not binned.
“This isn’t a foodbank or a food pantry, it’s about saving surplus food,” says Kathryn. “We don’t care if the people who come have £1 or £1million, this is really about helping to stop food waste.”
Last year was Liverpool Zero waste Community’s first Christmas, and Kathryn says they were overwhelmed by the numbers who came and the amount of produce.
“We had no idea what to expect, so we were sending four cars to a supermarket and having to leave pallets of food behind because we couldn’t fit it all in our vehicles,” she says.
“We’d never seen anything like the volumes of food that came through last year. We did it at various church halls on Christmas Eve and then on New Year’s Eve we were at All Souls and we were inundated.
“People were queuing down the road to come in, there must have been at least few hundred, but there was a really good atmosphere, we were going up and down the queue with trays of food and everyone was chatting and laughing.
“This time, as well the food, we’ve been saving toys and gift sets all year so we’ll have a table where everyone can take a present, and there’ll also be lots of selection boxes.
“This year we’ve got about 90 people going out on Christmas Eve with more volunteers in the hall, and we’ll be picking up from 50 stores in south Liverpool as well as more in the north and Wirral.
“We’ll bring everything to the hall at All Souls and people can come along with as many bags as they want and fill up their cupboards and freezers.
“We’ll open at about 6pm until 10.30pm, but the shops all shut at different times so the stock is constantly being refreshed which means you don’t have to come at 6pm to get the best stuff.”
Kathryn says the quantity and quality of food they saved and shared last year was incredible.
“Just from one Aldi we got six trollies of chicken, and during the week my husband filled the car with M&S turkeys that cost £90. It blows your mind when you see it. But the supermarkets know we’re reliable and we’ll turn up, and they can see how it’s being distributed, so that’s why they phone us.”
Kathryn, Dave and Pam, who live in Woolton, started the group 18 months ago, collecting from just two supermarkets – Tesco in Woolton and Mather Avenue. Now a team of around 150 volunteers picks up in the mornings, afternoons and evenings across Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington, going to about 95 stores in all.
As the idea has grown, it’s gained some well-known supporters too, including Liverpool Bake-Off contestant Lizzie Acker. Liverpool Zero Waste Community doesn’t have a permanent base at the moment, that’s a future goal, but it’s just been made a CIC.
It currently distributes through church halls, schools, children’s centres and South Liverpool Homes, and people are able to book a ready made-up bag through the group’s social media pages.
It’s not just fresh produce that’s given out, it could be anything that can’t be sold for whatever reason, including split packaging, although there is plenty of fresh fruit and veg.
“We had a warehouse contact us and we shifted about 14,000 nectarines in three days which would have gone to landfill. We like a challenge!” laughs Kathryn.
Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day they’ll be at All Souls every day except Christmas Day.
Teacher Kathryn says she hopes as many people as possible can benefit, knowing they’re actually doing good in stopping waste at the same time.
“People share recipes on our social pages using the food they’ve collected, and after they’ve picked up bags they’ll often come back to volunteer and share their skills. We’re a food community so we all come together to do this.”