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Aber Food Surplus encourages sustainability

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Surplus food: Served to event attendees (Pic. Christopher Byrne)

Surplus food: Served to event attendees (Pic. Christopher Byrne)

THERE are many of us that hate to see food go to waste, especially perfectly edible and decent food that no one wants sitting in the bin. Thankfully though, Aberystwyth has the hope of continuously being on the food sustainability rise, courtesy of local organisation ‘Aber Food Surplus’.

In order to highlight ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ week, where a series of events have been held, Thursday, October 27 saw Aber Food Surplus, Aberystwyth Sustainability Society and Aberystwyth University Residence Life Team join together to host an educational event at Aberystwyth University.

Prior to the screening of ‘Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story’, those who attended the event (students and staff at the university and local community members) were able to feast on a variety of perfectly fine food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Aber Surplus was able to rescue unwanted food due to kind donations from Greggs, Aberystwyth University and Morrisons, to name a few.

It was wonderful to see the people who attended enjoying delicious soup, pasties, salads and chocolate biscuits while socialising with each other. This event was a very generous idea symbolising the very purpose of food sustainability and a chance to appreciate the food even more.

Everyone then made their way into the lecture room of the Llandinam building to await the film screening.

Chris Woodfield introduced the event by thanking everyone for attending and stated that food should be given to mouths, not bins, while explaining a bit about what the evening would entail.

Quite fittingly, the screening of ‘Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story’ was good to go as the lights dimmed for an education hour ahead.

Produced by Jenny Rustemayer and directed by Grant Baldwin, the ground-breaking documentary is a very beneficial watch for those who are interested in food sustainability.

The documentary follows a couple in America who challenge themselves to live for six months from food waste, in addition to exploring what really happens in our food system.

To fully understand the process, the documentary is split into four categories – Mindset, Consequence, Recovery and Change. The film aims to get us thinking as to how much food is wasted and from that, how much of the wasted food is still good to eat.

We learn from the documentary that, at the time of being filmed in 2014, 40% of grown food is not eaten and a third of food is not consumed globally. From this, we are able to slowly get a better insight into the effects of food waste.

On the subject of perfection, universally we all at some point or another look for food in a shop or supermarket that has no markings on it, for example. But when we step back, we realise that just because there are markings on food, does not mean it is fit for the bin – but unfortunately, the mind of retailers think differently.

To the retailers, things must look perfect and edible to the consumer, and if there is a marking/bruise on food, then it is ‘not good to eat’.

Another point that the documentary makes is the link between littering and wasting.

Society today associates littering to be a ‘sin’ or an unforgiving act that have people up in arms. Unfortunately, food waste is not treated as the same and instead, it is treated as ‘fine’ and ‘normal’. In fact, because it is so natural, it does not enter people’s minds until it is pointed out to us.

Watching the couple drive around locating bins in places like at the back of restaurants truly strikes a chord. They express the concerns they had before they started the challenge and how they thought hunting for food would be a problem but as the documentary progressed, they admitted that they find it to be easier than expected. From this, we can gather that not only is food waste considered normal behaviour in our society today, but that it continuous to carry on behind the scenes.

To illustrate the consequences of food waste, the documentary reiterates to us that despite using a lot of land to produce a lot of food, we quickly end up producing food that no one eats. As it stands in 2016, nearly 30% of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow food that is wasted. The question is, will we learn from what we do and if so, when will that be?

To get to that point, recovery is in order. To regain something that has been lost, we must learn from the estimated 60% of people who throw their food out prematurely and start to make changes in our lifestyles and our ways of thinking.

To conclude the film, the couple confide in the viewers about what they have learned from the experience and the money they saved as a result of the challenge.

Jenny, President of the Aberystwyth University Sustainability Society, addressed the lecture room to explain about the moment her perspective on food changed.

Describing her time volunteering in a Kenyan Children’s home, Jenny explained about the occasion where she found a photo of an extravagant milkshake on her Facebook newsfeed and a young child refused to believe that one person is able to consume that much.

Listening to Jenny speak about her experience clearly strikes a chord and will give you a different spin on how we all look at food sustainability. This then was followed by a Q&A session about the work that Aber Food Surplus provide in Aberystwyth and was an excellent chance for those who attended to find out how they can get involved.

The Herald spoke to Christopher Woodfield, Heather McClure and Christopher Byrne of Aber Food Surplus after the event to find out a little bit more about them: “Aber Food Surplus is made up of Chris Woodfield, Heather McClure and Chris Byrne, who met in September 2015 to form the university’s first Sustainability Society.

“The team are passionate about food waste and food security, with Chris Woodfield studying an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Heather recently completed a MA in Regional and Environmental Policy and Chris Byrne is currently studying a PhD in Food Security.”

They went on to say: “All of the team are inspired to make a positive difference in their local community here in Aberystwyth, from learning and studying about the environmental consequences of food waste contributing to climate change and also the social implications of wasting food and food poverty.”

The trio went on to tell about Aber Food Surplus and how it all began: “Aber Food Surplus is currently in the process of setting itself up as a charity-based not-for-profit social enterprise after having recently completed the Amplify Cymru social enterprise training package delivered by the Young Foundation.

“The project aims to redistribute edible fit-for-consumption food that is no longer wanted by supermarkets or retailers, ensuring this food is fed to people.

“Aber Food Surplus hopes to develop a community hub where the food can be redistributed to specific charities and community groups with the long-term aim to establish a community surplus cafe which gives this ‘waste’ or ‘surplus’ food to the community through the ‘Pay As You Feel’ model.”

In addition, they told us: “This Pay As You Feel concept has already proven successful across the UK, with two similar projects in North and South Wales. The team are inspired and enthusiastic to tackle the issue of food waste using this approach to bring the community together and hope the hub or cafe can act as a place of social cohesion and connection with local people using the space for events and activities.

Furthermore, they would like to raise awareness of how much food is being wasted and allow people to value and understand the importance of food.

About the food they provided for those who attended, they explained: “The waste or surplus food used for the event was redistributed from retailers across Aberystwyth, most notably Morrisons, who Aber Food Surplus has been working with since the beginning of year.

“The whole event was organised by volunteers, including volunteer chefs who cooked the food.”

When we asked all three about how they would encourage people to get involved with Aber Food Surplus, they explained: “The project has been facilitating the redistribution of food from Morrisons to the Salvation Army and the Wallich in Aberystwyth since the beginning of year; however, now is looking to expand and engage with other retailers and projects across the town.

“The team have no financial backing and are looking for grants and financial support with the hope of finding a premises in the centre of town to establish the redistribution network of food to the community and people who need it.

“Food waste is a universal issue and everyone can play their part in reducing wastage, whether this is via cooking more sensibly, using your green food waste bin, or challenging retailers, restaurants and cafes about what they do with their surplus or waste food.”

They all went on to say: “Food waste is often a taboo subject and, unfortunately, it appears socially acceptable to waste food. However, estimates range from as much as one third to 50% of all food produced is wasted globally, and in the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimate 15 million tonnes of food are wasted annually.

“Aber Food Surplus aim to make positive social and environmental change here in Aberystwyth by tackling this food wastage in a creative, engaging and community-led way.”

Finally, they added: “For those who are interested in getting involved, finding out more, volunteering or supporting the project, contact aberfoodsurplus@outlook.com or the Facebook page ‘Aber Food Surplus’.”

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Local Businesses help raise astonishing £10,000 for Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital

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THE ORGANISERS of the 2021 Aberystwyth Businesspersons’ Lunch have donated the £10,000 proceeds to the Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital.

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands;

John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad

and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon

The lunch last December was in memory of well-known local businessman, jeweller and musician John Davies, who had helped organise the annual lunch for many years but sadly passed away just a few months before.

“John was such a lovely man, a pillar of the town and so well thought of, that we decided it was fitting that the lunch should be in his memory and that the proceeds should go to the cardiac unit where he had been treated for so many years,” said Aled Rowlands, who organised the lunch along with Frank Bridle, Layla Mangan, Gary Pemberthy, Huw Bates and Iestyn Leyshon.

“It was a very successful day, with nearly 200 people enjoying a lunch, comedian, band, auction and raffle. It was a fitting tribute to John who was such a big part of the town.”

John Davies joined his parents’ business at T J Davies at the age of 16 where he worked for 64 years after leaving Llandaff Cathedral School. He passed away in August 2021, at the age of 80.

John’s wife Ann and children Angharad and Rhodri said: “We were delighted at the generous amount that was raised in his memory at the Businesspersons Christmas lunch.

“Charity work was important to John, through his membership of the Lions Club and it is fitting that the money raised went to a department where he personally received such care and attention from Dr McKeogh and his team.

“John will be remembered not only as a businessman but also as a keen and talented trumpeter, playing with Aberystwyth Town Band, Aber Jazz and Philomusica, to name but a few, as well as playing carols with the Town Band every Christmas Day around Bronglais Hospital wards and care homes in the town.”

Pictured at the cheque presentation at Bronglais Hospital are (from left) Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands; John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon.

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Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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