Blog post

Food for thought – tackling waste and supporting local families

Donating food and other items to local charities is helping University of Derby students tackle the issues of waste and food poverty.

By Lisa Varley - 20 July 2018

The food poverty conundrum is real and impacts us all. A study by a group of charities revealed that 27 per cent of UK parents with children of primary school age have skipped a meal due to lack of money for food. Yet an estimated one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year.

Over the past two years the University’s halls of residence have supported a local charity, The Hope Centre in Derby. The centre opened its doors in 2011. It helps people in crisis including the elderly, low-income families, children, single parents, refugees and asylum seekers. Its services include a food bank, clothing store, lunch club for the over 50s, children’s club, weekly drop-in job club and debt advice.

Food parcels

The food bank gives out between 50 to 60 food parcels a week. In the last seven years this has amounted to over 20,000 parcels. Around one-third of recipients are under the age of 16, showing that families rely heavily on this support.

We encourage our students to donate unwanted items of non-perishable food at the end of term. We have collection points in the reception areas; when they are filling up, I collect them to take them to the centre, where they make up the food parcels.

Donations hit record high

This year several groups of students have promoted this campaign amongst their flatmates at Cathedral Court. As a result we have seen record numbers of donations from this one hall alone. They collected just under 200 items of food, eight bags of clothing and even a Christmas tree! We would like to say a huge thank you to Cathedral Court staff and students in particular who went above and beyond this year.

The Hope Centre isn’t the only charity benefiting from our students’ generosity. We also work with the British Heart Foundation on their Pack for Good campaign. Students donate unwanted items of furniture, books and clothes at the end of term which go to the local shops to be sold. We have donation bins at each of our halls with weekly collections.

From 1 October 2017 to 31 March 2018 we collected 407 bags of donations which is worth up to £5,698; from 1 April to 26 May this year we collected 265 bags of donations which is worth up to £3,710 to the charity.

Each year we see an increase in donations from our students and we are overwhelmed at the support they show to these very worthwhile causes. The items go such a long way to supporting people who really need it. We are so proud of our students and look forward to even better results in the new academic year.

About the author

Lisa Varley
Residence Life Co-Ordinator, Student Living Derby

I graduated with a degree in French and Spanish and spent 10 years working in the travel industry as an Assistant Manager for a school tour company. I organise all the events and activities for our students living in halls of residence.