Against the backdrop of the ‘cost of living crisis’, innovative Leeds charity Rethink Food this month launched a unique ‘academy’ at the White Rose Shopping Centre: a community venue aiming to support people of all ages and backgrounds to develop ‘food secure lives’.
Rethink Food – formerly known as Food Revival, and based until now in Pudsey – is part of the wide-ranging movement of organisations and groups that has emerged in the past decade to tackle unnecessary food waste, by diverting surplus food into communities.
Since launching in 2015, the organisation has redistributed huge quantities of unwanted food which would otherwise have been binned: 900 tons over the first 12 months of the Covid pandemic, for example. They supply over 100 schools and 17 local community organisations, and also sell over 200 weekly boxes to the public – including through the Rowland Road Social Club scheme in Beeston.
Furthermore, the organisation has also developed a range of initiatives to address the underlying issues surrounding food poverty and insecurity. These include: an extensive UK-wide schools programme, which provides teaching resources, and hands-on experience of growing, cooking and understanding food; and online resources for all ages.
Their new ‘academy’ – located next to the main door into Sainsbury’s, inside the shopping centre – will enable them to develop their work, operating as a learning environment and meeting space for schools, businesses, community groups, and the public.
Nathan Atkinson, a former head teacher and Rethink Food co-founder, said:
“Millions of UK children arrive at school hungry each day, and we saw that in our schools – so we vowed to remove hunger as a barrier to learning, and started Rethink Food.
“But more than that, we want to improve food security for children, families, and their wider communities – and increase awareness, understanding, and positive action linked to food.”
Rethink Food paid thanks to their wide range of partners at their official launch event on Thursday 17 February – and particularly noted that they had managed to wholly kit out and furnish the venue for free by using surplus goods donated by furniture firms and others.
For more information, or to get involved, or to access the academy, visit rethinkfood.co.uk or facebook.com/RethinFoodUK, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or just drop in there and talk with the team.