Scotland’s first rescued food supermarket is opening in January 2019.
The new Edinburgh-based food shop, which will be called Food Sharing Hub, will aim to rescue surplus food from businesses, restaurants and supermarkets and redistribute it to individuals and the local community, saving good-to-eat food items from an unnecessary fate in the bin. All at a very affordable cost.
The project is being developed and coordinated by food-waste reduction movement Food Sharing Edinburgh (FSE), an offshoot of volenteer-led cooperative SHRUB Coop, which is helping people lead more sustainable lifestyles and tackle waste in their everyday life.
After having established partnerships with over 25 local businesses and having set up food drop off points all around Edinburgh, FSE are now aiming even bigger. The new Hub, they say, “will take Food Sharing to the next level.”
“We’re right on track for our January opening,” says Laurie King, Food Sharing Hub coordinator. “The Hub will have its own home at 22, Bread Street–a very central location, right in the heart of Edinburgh. It will be easy to access and open to anyone who wants to buy food items or get involved with FSE activities.”
“Apart from the one paid staff member that will be working in the Hub, we will be very much reliant on the work of volunteers to keep the Hub open and running. We are keen to engage with the local community and we’re on the lookout for people who are willing to help out on a voluntary basis.”
“Our aim is to create a community space which will promote the values of inclusivity and openness towards diversity–a safe space for the whole community.”–Laurie King
The zero-waste supermarket
Why the idea of a zero-waste supermarket in Scotland? “When we started off, we’d mainly been collecting food from smaller, local businesses around town,” says King. “As we’ve been growing, we started to enagage with bigger businesses and supermarkets. That’s when we reaslised we needed a much bigger space to stock the food–and so the idea of the Food Sharing Hub came up.”
Through the new Hub, FSE volunteers claim they will be able to increase the amount of food collected to 500kg per week–a sharp increase from the current average of 200kg.
The project follows in the footsteps of other successful experiments across England–such as the Sharehouse in Leeds and the Sharehouse Market in Sheffield–and around Europe, like the Wefood in Copenhagen.
“These projects have shown us that this is an existing thing, that this is really happening. It’s time for Scotland now to have a food sharing hub of its own,” continues King.
The crowdfunding campaign
While FSE volunteers are working relentlessly to meet their January 2019 deadline for the official opening of Scotland’s first excess food supermarket, food transportation is still in the way.
This is why FSE volunteers have launched a fundraising campaign aiming at collecting money to purchase two electric powered cargo bikes to ease the food transportation process. They’re a low carbon solution–environmentally friendly, while still able to carry nearly as much food as a van.
“There’s only one final barrier to overcome to make the Food Sharing Hub a reality: transport. Right now, we collect food on foot or by bicycle.”–FSE volunteers
Part of the funds raised through this campaign will also go towards training for the riders, repair tools, waterproof clothes, spare batteries and the necessary safety gear.
“Our crowdfunding campaign is an essential part of the puzzle,” says Rob Simpson, Communications Coordinator at SHRUB Coop. “These giant cargo bikes cost almost nothing to run and maintain once we’ve bought them, they can access side streets that a van would struggle with, and any of our volunteers can use them with little training.”
Food waste in Edinburgh
Worldwide, one-third of all food goes to waste.
In central Edinburgh only, an astounding 27 tonnes of food go to waste every week – that’s the equivalent of roughly 54,000 meals unnecessarily thrown in the bin. Supermarkets are a big part of the problem.
The Food Sharing Hub and its volunteers are trying to make a tackle this problem and significantly reduce waste across Scotland.
Says King: “We hope that, once the Food Sharing Hub is up and running, it will make a much bigger statement about food waste, being a public, visible display of how much food we waste every day and helping to raise awareness on how big an issue food waste still is.”