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Tesco and Jamie Oliver launch cookery school for food leftovers

Tesco and Jamie Oliver launch cookery school for food leftovers

Tesco has announced a new training programme featuring celebrity chef Jamie Oliver designed to help community cooks make the most of surplus food donations.

The Tesco Community Cookery School has been developed in partnership with food redistribution charity FareShare, which works to get surplus food from producers and retailers into the hands of communities and people who need it.

The programme was launched yesterday (24 January) at the Goodinge Community Centre in Islington, London, and will be rolled out across the UK this year. Jamie Oliver is joining the programme to provide advice on how to prepare healthy meals from retailer food donations – donations that often come in large quantities and may consist of unusual or unexpected ingredients.

Jamie Oliver explained: “I’ve written these recipes to arm all those amazing community cooks with the tools to create something delicious and balanced for people who need it the most. It is all about giving otherwise-wasted ingredients some love, and transforming them into tasty, nutritious meals. For me, every dish we cook that reduces food waste is a winner!”

Tesco has said that over 1,000 community cooks will benefit from the free lessons, and will also be provided with cooking equipment and a recipe book to take away.

Food waste fixes

Tesco has long been ahead of the pack when it comes to food waste; back in 2013, it was the first retailer to publish its food waste data, revealing that 28,500 tonnes of food was wasted in stores and distribution centres over six months that year. Since then, the supermarket has been ranked top in the country for food waste prevention in a report by UK charity Feedback, which said that Tesco had the most comprehensive food waste figures of all retailers. In addition, the supermarket has managed to get all of its major suppliers to agree to publish their food waste data.

Tesco first piloted a surplus food redistribution scheme in 2015, beginning its partnership with FareShare. However, nearly 20,000 tonnes of edible surplus food was still sent for energy recovery in 2017/18, and over 10,000 was turned into animal feed, compared to 7,975 tonnes redistributed to communities. Yet even this figure puts Tesco ahead of the other main UK supermarkets in terms of redistribution.

Davis Lewis, Tesco’s CEO, said of the new programme: “Surplus food donations can make a huge difference to people in need, but can also create challenges for community cooks [...] As part of our commitment to ensure all food that is safe to eat doesn’t go to waste, we’ve set up the Tesco Community Cookery School.

“We believe we can inspire, train and support charities to do even more with the donations they receive. Together, we can bring tasty and nutritious food to more people, in communities right across the UK.”

CEO of FareShare Lindsay Boswell added: “With Tesco’s support, FareShare is working with charities across the country to help feed hundreds of thousands of people in need every week. Most of these charities provide meals made by community cooks, who may already have lots of experience and just need some new ideas; or they could do with a really good grounding in nutrition and the scaling up of meals. In either case the Tesco Community Cookery School is ideal for them, and will have a direct benefit in providing nutritious hot meals to vulnerable people.”

FareShare operates in 1,500 towns and cities across the UK, redistributing surplus food to 9,653 charities. According to the charity’s annual report for 2017/18, the food it redistributed contributed to 36.7 million meals.

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