Feeding the 5,000 in Trafalgar Square

On Wednesday,  16 December, Trafalgar Square will host a free feast of biblical proportions: a modern day Feeding the 5000.

From 12-2pm, a partnership of campaigners, charities and supporters will serve lunch to 5,000 members of the public to highlight the problem of food waste, and the many practical ways to solve it. Rich countries like the UK currently waste up to half of their food supplies. All the food handed out on the day to passers-by will be made from fresh and nutritious ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted.

The menu will include hot soups made from vegetables cast out because they are not cosmetically perfect, a range of sandwiches and freshly-made fruit smoothies, pressed on the day by customised bicycles.

Organised by the author and food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, Feeding the 5,000 will highlight the work of the partner organisations, Save the Children; ActionAid; This is Rubbish; and FareShare. Supporters of the event include the Mayor of London; the Bishop of London; journalist and campaigner Rosie Boycott; and celebrity chef Thomasina Miers.

Tristram Stuart explains: “Feeding the 5000 is a wonderful partnership including food companies, farmers and charities. The aim of our lunchtime feast is to highlight how food waste can be avoided by putting food to good use i.e. feeding people.”

UK households waste 25% of all the food they buy. This is Rubbish works to raise awareness of how individuals, as well as retailers, can reduce the amount of food waste they produce.

According to Save the Children, 3.1 million children die from hunger every year while billions of pounds of food are wasted. The average UK family wastes around £480 worth of food a year. For that price three children could be saved from malnutrition. Rich governments should be encouraged to make combating hunger a priority and ensure that resources saved by reducing food waste are put into feeding hungry people around the world.

Waste is also a prominent problem in the developing world. Farmers can lose up to half of their harvests getting food from farms to markets before it spoils. ActionAid works with people to find simple solutions to these issues. Focusing international aid on helping farmers and others in the supply chain to invest in simple infrastructure such as grain stores, refrigeration and shaded market stalls can be a cost-effective,
sustainable way of increasing farmers’ incomes at the same time as improving the availability of food in places where it is needed most.

Rosie Boycott, appointed by the Mayor of London to Chair the London Food Board, is an enthusiastic supporter of the event: “There are lots of creative ways to avoid food waste in our homes before we even get into the shops, where we all know how easy it is to over-shop ending up binning food we don't end up eating. Making food go further helps us rediscover the pleasures of home cooking and saves pounds off the weekly food bill. Feeding the 5000 will bring to life the idea that all food is good food, and every morsel of it is too good to waste.”

Amongst those present on the day will be the Right Honourable Richard Chartres, Anglican Bishop of London, who explains why he is supporting the campaign: “This is a hungry world and yet in the UK we waste huge amounts of food. Jesus told his disciples after feeding the 5000 to ‘gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’

“At the Feeding the 5000 event, 5000 people will be fed from ingredients which otherwise would have been thrown away. It will be an acted parable and a challenge to each one of us to examine our own larders and dustbins in order to reduce our impact on the environment. It will also alert us to the injustice of a world in which some have food to waste while others go hungry.”

Chef and restaurateur Thomasina Miers (Wahaca), will be presenting a cookery master class on the day to demonstrate how to make the most of the food we buy:

“This is a creative and entertaining way to raise people’s awareness of how much we are all chucking away, its future implications and what we could all be doing instead.  I am delighted to be a part of it and urge people to come down to Trafalgar Square on the day and join us for a delicious, free lunch!”

Share this story