As national awareness about the global climate crisis increases, countless unique initiatives to cut wastage and maximize sustainability have emerged out of the bleak horizon to give us hope for the future. The Badger spoke to Isla Kilpatrick, one of the founders of For The Love of Grub, the Sussex student group pioneering good honest food at an affordable price. Using food that would have been wasted, the group aims to reduce food wastage in a laid back environment through a series of pop-up supper clubs around the Brighton area. Whilst four students created the group, they want it to be “as inclusive as possible, connecting people across generations and occupations” through the love of delicious, sustainably sourced food.

When asked about their inspiration for the project, Isla cites her time in Copenhagen, where she spent the last year living. “There was this amazing community center called Absalon, which was a converted church in the heart of one the coolest districts of the city called Vesterbro. They fed 500 people every evening for five pounds, which by Copenhagen standards was really affordable. Everyone sat on long Harry Potter-style trestle tables, and shared the incredibly delicious and diverse bowls of food. It was such a great way to meet people in a new city, and I loved the community feel to the place – you could be sitting next to a family on one side of you and an older person who had come by themselves on the other”.

We want to create a community with a fun and relaxed atmosphere

For the Love of Grub: The Pop-up Supper Club took inspiration from Absalon in terms of creating a diverse, inclusive community but also demonstrated that we could really make a difference at the same time in combating the problem of food waste. We want to show how easy it is to incorporate practices that reduce food waste into our everyday lives without this being our only objective. We don’t want people to come to our events because they feel that they should, rather we want to create a community with a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The place should be an easy way to connect with lots of different people, as well as doing our bit to reduce waste in our community; whether this involves re-creating meals out of surplus food from supermarkets, encouraging sharing, or educating people with new ways of living a less wasteful life”.

“Food is such a great way to get people together and Brighton is already doing wonderful things to do with food and food waste, especially in terms of soup kitchens, and feeding people who may not otherwise be able to afford a hot meal. For the Love of Grub is slightly different in the way that it is directed at anyone and everyone regardless of background, need or situation – in fact we are encouraging people from all different walks of life because we want to create a space where people can come together who may not normally get the chance to meet and interact”.

Whilst the team has worked tirelessly to make their concept into reality, the process has not been without complications. “It is funny how much harder it is to source food destined for the bin as opposed to buying it new. Many supermarkets are cautious of giving away their food waste because they want to avoid being caught up in legal battles about food poisoning. However, it is incredibly important for them to figure out ways to save this food from being wasted. There are lots of great initiatives that act as ‘middle men’ between big super markets, charities and supper clubs like ours, including FareShare Sussex, The Real Junk Food Project, and The Gleaning Network. Another difficultly is planning what meal to serve at the supper club because we cannot preempt what food is going to waste from week to week – so I think the key thing here is to be a bit more inventive and spontaneous”.

The team has been in talks with several Brighton-based businesses, and has received guidance from other like-minded groups striving to reduce waste. “Brighton is definitely an easier place than others to start a pop-up supper club like ours. What we have especially enjoyed is how everyone in the food waste community really wants to work together in a network or as a collective, as opposed to in competition like we are used to with many of today’s super markets. It has really shown us the power of working together”.

When asked about their reliance on student volunteers as an active workforce, Isla says, “Students are often thought of as being advocates for change, there are many ways students can make a difference from creating societies, generating discussion, and voting with their pounds. But we shouldn’t just think of students and young people as the only people interested in this. I think people box people into generations and stereotype them. Instead we should all be working together to create changes”.

I think people box people into generations and stereotype them. Instead we should be working together tocreate changes

We are making supper-clubs more accessible for everyone, not just students. We have found that a great way to keep costs down is to work together, helping other initiatives by volunteering etc. We really want to reinvent peoples image of the supper club, it really shouldn’t have to be expensive as feeding people in bigger groups is a good way actually cutting costs! I think how you market your event is important, someone should be able to tell by the logo and flyers for example that the event is inclusive”.

“We are keen for people to set up their own Pop-Up Supper clubs elsewhere, so in each stage of the process of creating our event we have really tried to keep this in mind. We have won some funding from the University, which was a great start. But for those who are not part of a university there are actually a lot of different ways of getting funding that exist in the community – a bit of research goes a long way!”

“There will be a small fee for the meal, and if anyone feels that they want to give a little bit more then that’s amazing! It’s also going to have a ‘bring your own booze’ policy, which we hope will also keep the costs down”

The team has a carefully considered and organized approach to the project that stands as testament to the hard work and research that has gone into the concept. “We have a great team of volunteers and some very talented and experienced chefs who I know will be imaginative and spontaneous. I also want to explain that we are not necessarily ‘zero-waste’, we will be sourcing as much grub as we can get our hands on that would otherwise have been wasted, but we will also be buying some of our food from local sources to create the delicious meal served at the event.

Any food that we do not manage to eat on the evening we will encourage people to take leftovers home with them for a second re-use! The whole point of the supper club is to incorporate ways of reducing food waste into our everyday lives, so we hope that combining food waste and new food is an attainable model to follow! The meals will be vegetarian, and if people have particular dietary requirements they can email us prior to the event to accommodate for them”.

For those looking to get involved with the project, Isla encourages “anyone who wants to get involved in any shape or form or just wants to come and enjoy some delicious grub – find us on Facebook our page is and that’s where all our event details will be posted. Or send us a message! Also spread the word so more people can join our community too…”

Follow Isla’s tips for reducing wastage in your day-to-day life:

  • Plan ahead
  • Cooking and eating in big groups as opposed to individually
  • Also stews, curries and soups are usually delicious with all sorts chucked in them – be inventive
  • Using food sharing apps to share your surplus food which you know you won’t be able to use up
  • Share, donate and give away surplus food
  • Save for a pack lunch the next day
  • Start a supper club!
Categories: Features

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