It is estimated that one million tonnes of food is wasted in Ireland every year. Not all of this food is actually waste. Large quantities are better described as surplus food. This is perfectly good food that, as a consequence of the modern food system, does not reach consumers and invariably ends as waste.
FoodCloud makes the redistribution of surplus food as easy as possible through an innovative technology platform that matches businesses with surplus food and charities in their community that need it. Businesses upload details of what food they have available and this goes as a text message to a local charity that then go and collect the food.
The Food Rescue Project
However, many charities in urban areas were unable to participate as they do not have access to transport. To solve this problem, FoodCloud established the Food Rescue Project, which sees a team of dedicated volunteers driving to city centre stores, collecting food and delivering it to nearby charities.
The Food Rescue Project began as a pilot project with a handful of volunteers collecting from three stores, and, in the last 15 months, the project has grown significantly.
There are now over 140 trained volunteers redistributing food twice a day. A cornerstone of the Food Rescue Project has been an electric vehicle (EV) which was donated by ESB in March 2014 when the project began. The fully electric vehicle, affectionately known as ‘Foodie’ by our volunteers, has become a familiar sight on the streets of Dublin as it ferries surplus food from supermarkets to charities.
Ireland is a leader in providing solutions for surplus food and is leading the way internationally in developing innovative ways of getting good food to people who need it. The Food Rescue Project is part of a movement of initiatives internationally seeking to ensure good food gets to a good home, such as OzHarvest in Australia and City Harvest in New York.
Driving with Support
We have received lots of support from different organisations in getting this great project off the ground. Trinity College have provided city centre space where we park and charge the EV at a designated charge point installed by ESB. We charge the car overnight to take advantage of renewable energy and have it ready for the busy morning and evening shifts. We also have access to the variety of EV charge points across the city if we need to recharge.
Driven by our volunteers, Foodie is practical, reliable, easy to drive, cheap to run and ideal for short-hop city driving, allowing us to deliver food from Tesco stores to local charities more effectively and quickly.
It has delivered the equivalent of over 46,000 meals to charities in Dublin city centre since the project started. During Christmas Week alone, there was a total of 745 kilogrammes of food, the equivalent of over 1,600 meals, redistributed through the Food Rescue Project in the EV.
We are delighted to build on this partnership: our friends in ESB formally handed over the keys of ‘Foodie’ to us this week and have kindly donated a second EV enabling us expand further.
While ESB and others have provided invaluable help, it is the kindness of our volunteers, who give their time that remains fundamental to our expansion. We would welcome anyone with an interest in what we do to join our growing team of volunteers. In doing so, you’ll help in reducing food waste and food poverty across the city and to make a real and tangible difference to charities working within local communities. You can sign up to volunteer here!
by Iseult Ward, FoodCloud co-founder and CEO