Food Waste

Chef teaches Glasgow children how to turn surplus food into delicious dishes

A class learn to cook

Last week, the children of St Thomas Aquinas School in Glasgow learned how reducing food waste by using surplus food to create tasty treats can help reduce harmful greenhouse emissions.

In the run-up to COP26, the school along with award-winning chef, Simon Boyle hosted the cooking event in partnership with Biffa, the UK’s leading sustainable waste management company and Company Shop Group, the UK’s largest redistributor of surplus food and household products.

One-third of greenhouse gases come from food, and whilst Glasgow hosts leaders from all over the world at the annual UN climate change conference, there is no better time to show the younger generation, the small changes that can have lifelong impacts on the environment.

Company Shop Group, part of the Biffa family, is the UK’s leading and largest redistributor of surplus food and household products. Each year the UK food industry produces 527kt of surplus.

Through their innovative model the team at Company Shop Group partner with major retailers and manufacturers to redistribute surplus products through their network of membership-based outlets at deeply discounted prices to FMCG staff and key workers, helping families stretch their budgets further, whilst having a positive impact on the environment by tackling food waste.

Biffa Director David Bird said, “It was a fantastic day with the children, cooking wonderful meals from surplus food from Company Shop’s Renfrew store and being taught the valuable lesson that food that may otherwise have gone to waste can be given a fresh purpose and help reduce the impact of climate change.”

“The team at Company Shop Group do a tremendous job in minimising the amount of food that goes to waste.”

Claire McInally, Headteacher at St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School said: “We were pleased to welcome Biffa along with Simon Boyle into St Thomas Aquinas to work with a group of our S1 pupils on how to reduce food waste. There have been lots of learning opportunities for our young people in relation to COP26 that our pupils have loved participating in and this was no exception. Simon engaged so well with the S1s and really encouraged them to try foods they had never tasted before whilst explaining the combinations of flavours – all from foods would have ended up wasted.

“There was much excitement because of the presence of a film crew and chef but it didn’t take long for our pupils to relax and shine. From the excitement in the room I am certain that those pupils will be sharing what they learned with their friends and families and hopefully, they will become changemakers when it comes to reducing food waste. They were also very grateful for the extremely generous gift of Simon’s book.”

Award-winning chef and founder of Beyond Food Foundation & Brigade Bar + Kitchen: “I felt inspired and privileged being part of the school for the day. Equally my time at Company Shop was incredibly insightful. The concept is stunningly simple, useful and sensible. I think Biffa are stepping up and  being counted within their community. Making a difference where it counts and for people and planet.”

Steph McGinty, Group Managing Director at Company Shop Group said: “We’re delighted to collaborate with Biffa, the school and Simon Boyle on this project; engaging the next generation to prepare and enjoy delicious meals using surplus ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste. With COP26 taking place just down the road from our Company Shop store in Renfrew, it’s brilliant to help create a memorable day and share skills in the local community.”

The children, aged 11, said: “COP26 is when all the world leaders come to Glasgow to talk about climate change; it’s really important because there’s rapid weather changes and we can’t grow as much food – it matters to us and other people in the world.”

Martin is a journalist and PR executive of Commercial Waste Magazine. He has worked in the commercial waste and recycling industry for over a decade and is dedicated to raising public awareness in the amount of recyclable waste being sent to landfill every year.

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