Feeding the 5000 Leicester

26th September 2018

Feeding the 5000 Leicester

Toast Thoughts: To tackle food waste you need to empower local communities.


On Saturday 22 September, Team Toast travelled to Leicester to brave the cold, wet weather that firmly signalled the end of Summer. We were joined by 5,000 hungry mouths and a mountain of surplus food at Feeding the 5,000 – a celebration to raise awareness of the amount of food the UK wastes, and more importantly, the delicious solutions that exist to solve it.

Feeding the 5,000 is a one-day food festival, built around a feast for (unsurprisingly) 5,000 people using surplus food that would have otherwise gone to waste. This produce remains fresh and delicious – yet is deemed, like so much food, surplus to requirements due to overproduction or cosmetic standards.

Beyond a delicious meal, the public were treated to a cooking demo by former River Cottage chef Tim Maddams, a Ready Steady Cook competition with Leicester College students and a series of talks and panel discussions that helped shine a light on reducing waste from some of the sectors leading figures.

The festival was cooked up and organised by members of Lions Club International – the world’s largest service club organisation, made up of a group of service-minded men and women who are interested in doing volunteer work to improve their local communities. And it’s this local community work that’s so significant: we believe that to tackle food waste you need to empower people at a local level.

Food waste and environmental policy can be discussed at global and national levels, but the challenge is systemic. Food waste at an industrial level is compounded by us as consumers – fuelled by decisions we make every day as we go around supermarkets and grocery stores.

Some simple stats go a long way to painting a picture of just how big the challenge is in the UK:

  • 20 to 40% of the UK fruit and veg are rejected before they reach the shops – mainly for cosmetic reasons
  • Per capita waste by consumers in Europe is between 95 and 115 kg a year
  • WRAP estimates that 1.9 million tons of food is wasted every year in the UK – 400,000 of which could be redistributed to those in need

The numbers are pretty big, which is why it’s so inspiring to be involved with an event like Feeding the 5000, reframing the issues as a series of solutions that make the issue far more palatable.

Feeding the 5,000 is a flagship campaign of Feedback, the environmental charity dedicated to ending food waste and promoting sustainability. What started as a one-off event in Trafalgar Square in London in 2009 has now grown in stature, replicated as far as Sydney and New York – events that illustrate the global food waste problem.

Though although these may seem like global events, they very much deliver local solutions. By engaging local audiences, communities are empowered to make more informed decisions when purchasing and using food. We simply couldn’t be prouder to pour our profits into the work Feedback are doing.

With that in mind, Saturday felt particularly special for us at Toast as we got to see, enjoy and revel in the success of our beers. In fact, we were there sampling our full range of products – raising awareness of yet another delicious solution to food waste. We had great fun chatting to people, and seeing the city of Leicester brave the elements to engage with the issue was awe-inspiring. The energy and vibrancy hit a really celebratory tone – so important in making the food waste conversation easier to digest.

But perhaps more importantly – by engaging, inspiring and ultimately empowering local communities to tackle food waste in their own households, events like Feeding the 5,000 help mobilise the public to challenge the amount of waste we produce.

Cheers to a fantastic day – we can’t wait to support the next local community that looks to tackle food waste head on.

In the meantime, we’ll continuing the charge on food waste in Leicester with our beer stocked in Head of Steam, Toast Inn and Two-tailed Lion, as well as Tesco and Waitrose stores. We’re also launching a number of locally brewed collaborations using local surplus bread. You’ll be able to find our new Stottie brew at Head of Steam as of 26th October and we’ll be brewing an exciting Toasted Marshmallow Porter with Framework Brewery in November. We look forward to being back in Leicester in no time at all.