Tackling food poverty in Ireland
23 Apr 2014
In Ireland, as in many rich world countries, food poverty is a serious problem for a significant minority of people. According to some estimates, as many as 600,000 in Ireland do not have enough money to afford a regular healthy diet and 21% of children go to school hungry. Yet at the same time huge quantities of edible food are wasted or thrown away every day.
That’s why, as part of our efforts to reduce global food waste and to support our local communities, we are working with Bia Food Bank, an Irish charity formed in 2012. In addition to a grant of €60,000 we have committed to give the charity all of the surplus fresh food from our distribution centres. Bia Food will then store the food in a warehouse in Cork before distributing it to local residents.
The pilot in Cork is the first of what’s set to be a nationwide roll-out of food banks. Working in collaboration with an Irish charity called St Vincent de Paul, Bia Food plan to open another food bank in Dublin by the end of the year with other banks to follow in 2015.
Food waste app
In Dublin we are also working Foodcloud, a social enterprise founded by students from Trinity College Dublin, to distribute surplus food from our stores.
By using a free app designed by Foodcloud, our store colleagues across Dublin are able to tell local charities the type and amount of food that’s available from a particular store and a convenient time for it to be collected. Details of the available food are sent to the relevant charity via text message, who can then inform our colleagues if they want to pick up the food from the store.
The app means that a range of different charities can benefit from our surplus food, whether they are providing 120 meals once a day or feeding eight people three meals a day.
Since the pilot began in October 2013 Foodcloud have facilitated the donation of over 18,000 meals from our stores in Dublin. The app is a great example of innovative technology helping to reduce both food waste and food poverty. We are now looking to work with Foodcloud to offer this service in other cities across Ireland.