The Evening Standard has launched a campaign dubbed 'Food for London' which aims to tackle the issue of food wastage and poverty by redistributing surplus fresh food from UK producers to those in need.
The initiative comes on the back of research carried out by the title which found that the UK throws away 10 million tonnes of fresh produce each year, but an estimated 400,000 Londoners suffer from "severe" food poverty.
The investigation also revealed that 97 per cent of surplus food from supermarkets that is perfectly healthy for human consumption is currently being sent for animal feed or to anaerobic digestion – where it gets turned into gas-powered energy or fertiliser.
The paper has said it is committed to exposing this "scandal," and as such has teamed up with its flagship charity The Felix Project, which collects surplus food from suppliers and delivers it cost-free to charities to provide a "social solution" to the problem.
Founded by Evening Standard chairman Justin Byam Shaw and his wife Jane in memory of their teenage son Felix who passed away in 2014,the organisation already supplies 23 charities, bringing fresh food to over 500 Londoners every week.
To kick off proceedings, the Evening Standard has pulled together an initial £100,000 package backed by £50,000 from the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund and matched by £50,000 from The Felix Byam Shaw Foundation, which has pledged to match all funds raised by the campaign for The Felix Project pound for pound with up to £750,000. The funds will be put towards expanding the fleet of vans transporting food to charities and achieving the overall goal of retrieving more food from supermarkets.
"It’s an incredibly ambitious and exciting challenge in the tradition of this paper’s pioneering campaigning journalism for social change," said the Standard's editor, Sarah Sands. "The attitude of some top supermarkets has hugely improved over the past 18 months, but there is still a long way to go. This campaign will help recruit more suppliers to redistribute food to yet more charities, making a huge difference to hungry Londoners.”
Justin Byam Shaw said the idea of using surplus food, which would otherwise end up being used for energy or in a landfill, to tackle food poverty was an "obvious solution" to help tackle the issues of wastage and poverty.
"Felix cared about the latter and would have quickly come to see the absurdity of the former," he continued, "Felix is never out of my thoughts and our loss has made us determined to make sense of something so senseless by doing something good."