Redistributing surplus food in the city has a big impact on carbon emissions

Wasting food has a huge impact on carbon emissions because of all the energy that is used in its production, transportation and processing.  Not only that but rotting food on the scrap heap release methane – which is worse than carbon dioxide.

Surplus Food Network logoWe recently completed a report for the work done in 2018 by partners of the Surplus Food Network.  The Surplus Food Network is a partnership of organisations working together to redistribute surplus food in the city to the most vulnerable residents. This partnership is coordinated by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and includes: Fareshare Sussex, Real Junk Food Project, Sussex Gleaning Network, Sussex Homeless Support and UKHarvest. We have been active for two years now and since our inauguration we have had a pretty astonishing impact on the amount of surplus that has been collected.  This work has been funded thanks to Brighton & Hove City Council’s Third Sector Investment Programme.

Some of the things we have achieved over the last year:

  • We’ve saved over 1,090 tonnes of surplus food from going into the bin.  This food that could have been wasted, is now going straight to feed people that would otherwise go hungry.  This is an increase of 87% since the network began two years ago.
Carbon saved by Surplus Food Network

Carbon saved by Surplus Food Network in 2018

  • We’ve worked with over 688 volunteers through the partnership who have collaboratively volunteered over 65,000 hours.  Volunteers are integral to our work and we are so grateful for all their help, but the benefits go both ways. Check out this blog about the benefits of volunteering with us. We always need new people to help out and lend a hand a few hours a week.  Why not check out our volunteering opportunities here.

Volunteer surplus food network tile

  • We’ve collected food from 191 businesses. This is an increase of 69% since we began two years ago. This is an amazing achievement, but is just a small scratch in the surface of all the waste that is out there.  If you know a food business who has surplus. Why not put them in touch? We have a surplus food donation form here.

Businesses support surplus food network tile

  • We deliver food to over 120 local community projects.  These include places like food banks, lunch clubs and homeless projects which provide a vital lifeline for many people in need. Surplus food can be made into delicious recipes, enjoyed by everyone.

Community projects receive surplus food

  • We’ve given out over 21,000 meals over the last year to feed hungry bellies.  Stopping people from going hungry, providing space for people to come together and socialise, and serving healthy and nutritious food.

There are still some major issues with collecting surplus food:

  • Most of it is bread! We can’t cope with the amount of bread that is wasted everyday. There needs to be a reduction in production.
  • Most food is wasted at home or on the farm.  The food wasted at home is out of our hands and is the consumers’ responsibility to save from the bin. There are some great campaigns like Love Food Hate Waste to give you some tips on this. There are many complex reasons why food is wasted on the farm, the Gleaning Network helps provide one solution, but more needs to be done to enable consumers to eat wonky veg and seasonal products.
  • We have more demand for surplus than we can collect.  Surplus food is not the answer to food poverty, but is helping at the moment whilst companies are overproducing and overstocking.  We need to campaign on the societal conditions that make so many people hungry and needing to access emergency food.  We also need to find more long-term, sustainable options for low-cost food.

If you would like to donate to or get involved in the Surplus Food Network, have any queries or want to find out more, please contact Helen Starr-Keddle on 01273 234741 or email

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