London’s Ark Aid Street Mission is confident in a new strategy to feed the homeless and conserve on food waste.
As a privately operated food kitchen, the Ark doesn’t receive government support, relying solely on donations. As a result, they saw an opportunity to both combat food waste in grocery stores as well as provide a source of fresher food for their meals.
The plan consists of grocery stores in London allowing foods that would otherwise be thrown out to be picked up and re-distributed to food kitchens throughout the city. The Ark reached out to many organizations to garner suppliers, but all but one came back as a no.
The north London Costco store agreed to take part in the project, and have since allowed a daily pickup of food from an Ark Aid employee, which is then taken back to the Street Mission for packaging and distribution.
The program currently serves several local charities, food kitchens, and neighbourhood support groups. These organizations are generally supported by tax dollars, and for the most part buy the majority of their food. After receiving the fresh foods, there has been an opportunity to curb spending, resulting in a cash surplus that can be re-allocated.
While the plan is admittedly in its early stages, there are hopes that more companies will come on board, creating a bigger network of suppliers.
Obstacles still stand in the way of expansion, however, with corporate policies being the common denominator. Most stores have expressed a fear of liability should a recipient of the food become ill. This has prevented many who, despite showing interest, have limited power to go against chain store rules.
In the meantime, the Ark is continuing to operate the supply chain, working on a largely volunteer basis, and also orchestrating the program’s logistics. If more suppliers do agree to join the plan, the Ark believes that a more clearly defined administration would have to be created to run the plan successfully.