Anti-food waste activist Bread Santa wins award
by Vera Zakharov
Our new Food Partnership Food Heroes is a series celebrating the wonderful folk in our city who go above and beyond their call of duty to improve our food system and support others to access healthy, sustainable food.
We kick off the series with Vicky, a Food Waste Collective volunteer who saves literally tonnes of delicious bread and puts smiles on faces across Brighton and Hove.
A year ago, Vicky answered a volunteer call to help distribute surplus bakery items from Real Patisserie headquarters near London Road. The local bakery chain churns out hundreds of loaves, pastries and pizzas a day, and due to cancelled orders they end up with some surplus. She started distributing loaves one day a week, which soon expanded into daily collections. She has worked these deliveries into her lunchtime routine. The bakery items get donated to local sheltered housing schemes such as Brighton Foyer and Phase One, where residents who are in recovery from homelessness and substance misuse get to enjoy these tasty treats.
I asked Vicky why she was motivated to get involved in such a big way. “I grew up never wasting food, and always thought that everyone else was the same,” she says. “I was shocked at the levels of food waste and wanted to do something to make a difference. Food waste is a shame, even if the food being wasted is something as cheap and everyday as bread.”
And what about the people receiving the bread? “They love it. It makes a lot of people happy.” Over time, Vicky, who is often seen carrying a sack of loaves slung over her shoulder, has become known as Santa Carbs by the many projects making a huge difference in people’s lives.
Over the past year, Vicky has distributed about 3.6 tonnes of bread to seven different projects. Some projects cook a healthy breakfast for their residents, like Brighton Foyer, who house young people getting back on their feet after being homeless. Without this bread, projects like Foyer would have to buy bread, which would limit them to low quality budget loaves at the supermarket.
“For me it’s also about fair and equal access. People who are struggling are limited to cheap, un-nutritious bread, while others enjoy fine quality baked goods. Sharing this surplus means that everyone can enjoy something nutritious and delicious.”
In addition to sharing surplus baked items with local charities, Real Patisserie also offers their surplus on Too Good To Go and OLIO. What can’t be given to people gets recycled through food waste collection.
If you’re inspired by Vicky’s story of everyday bready benevolence, the Food Waste Collective is keen to find more volunteers to help deliver bread to local projects. Please get in touch to sign up.
Vicky has won a meal for two generously donated by Vegan Food Pimp who operates from the Marlborough Pub and Theatre offering delicious ‘dirty but healthy’ vegan food. Thank you VFP for your generous offer.
Do you know someone who does amazing things to support a sustainable food system in Brighton and Hove ? Email Caroline to tell us about anyone you think could be a Food Partnership Food Hero.