Neighbourly.com – the social platform that connects local community projects with companies that want to make a difference – has launched Neighbourly Food, a new service designed to fix the logistical problem of re-distributing surplus food, especially local fresh food.
The UK wastes 15 million tonnes of food per year, according to a 2014 House of Lords report – at a cost of £5bn. The government has set a target of halving Britain’s food waste by 2025, and a petition urging supermarkets to deliver surplus food to charities and vulnerable people has now attracted over 180,000 signatures.
Neighbourly Food solves both ends of the surplus food distribution challenge. The service allows local charities, food banks and surplus recycling operations to sign up, for free, to publicise their food requirements through neighbourly.com. Businesses including retailers, supermarkets, grocers, manufacturers and food distributors are able to use the service to offer their surplus food resources, showing what’s available, its location for collection and expiry date.
With the launch of the new service, Neighbourly is encouraging all UK charities and food banks, which might be able to benefit from surplus food re-distribution, to join the scheme at by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neighbourly Food provides transparency to all participants so that the best possible use is made of the UK’s surplus food resources. Currently local charities and causes which need donations are often invisible to potential food donors, while businesses lack a platform through which to find causes and then to manage their contributions with orderly and efficient processes. These problems are compounded by the pressure of time, as a result of use-by dates on fresh food products.
In addition to matching food donations to causes, Neighbourly Food supports the back office logistical requirements of participating businesses to help them effectively manage and report upon their successes in food re-distribution. The cloud hosted service is offered on a subscription basis to participating businesses.
“With over 288,000 tonnes of food wasted in the UK every week, UK business needs to play its part and do a better job of getting surplus food to the people who need it,” said Luke McKeever, chief executive officer, Neighbourly. “We make that process simpler and easier for both businesses and causes. Our aim is to recruit more causes around the UK as well as more donating businesses. The more people participate, the more effective we can be.”
Neighbourly Food has already been selected by Mark & Spencer to support its national surplus food redistribution scheme. The scheme will connect all its stores with local food charities and accelerate M&S towards its Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020.
“We are pleased to be the first nationwide user of the Neighbourly Food service,” said Mike Barry, director of sustainable business, Marks & Spencer. “We tested the service thoroughly before committing to a national rollout. During a pilot covering just six stores, we were able to redistribute four tonnes of surplus food in three months. Now we aim to have 150 stores participating by December and network-wide adoption by early next year.”
“The more businesses that use the service, the better for all of the nation’s food banks and charities supporting deprived communities,” continued Barry. “It’s great that all UK businesses can now support local causes and projects that re-use surplus food.”