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Local Legends: Surplus to Purpose

Suma's canteen co-ordinator Lou with a Surplus to Purpose delivery.

Published: 28/03/2024

We put a spotlight on one of the inspiring organisations we work with – local legends, Surplus to Purpose – a beacon of innovation in the fight against food waste.

As part of our ongoing work on sustainability, some of our team were recently able to visit our good friends at Surplus to Purpose (SToP), where we were treated to an eye-opening tour, got stuck in with volunteering activities, and discussed exciting new avenues for collaboration.

The ‘feed bellies, not bins’ vision

But first, let’s unravel the story of Surplus to Purpose and the visionary behind it all, Adam Smith. Inspired by his experiences in Australia, where the enormity of the food waste crisis left an indelible mark, Adam founded The Real Junk Food Project in 2013. With a bold mission to “feed bellies, not bins,” this initiative began as a humble pay-as-you-feel café in Leeds and spread to a global movement, spanning over 100 cafés across seven countries.

Fast forward to 2022, and Adam was appointed CEO at Surplus to Purpose, taking his focus on impact and innovation with him.

What SToP do

So, what exactly does Surplus to Purpose do? At its core, SToP is a trailblazing enterprise dedicated to intercepting surplus food and goods from supermarkets and retailers across Leeds. But their mission extends far beyond mere redistribution. With a commitment to environmental stewardship, they employ ingenious strategies to ensure that every morsel of rescued food is either safely consumed or responsibly recycled.

From their innovative “build a box” service, which invites the public to fill their containers with an array of rescued goodies, to their bespoke catering for events using surplus ingredients, SToP leaves no stone unturned in their quest to combat food waste.

We’re proud to have stepped up our partnership with them following our visit. Not only do we continue to pass on food we’re unable to sell for them to distribute, we now also receive fruit, veg and bread from them to use in our staff canteen. This food would otherwise be destined for the bin, so we’re happy to try and use as much of it as we can.

Our workers have been enjoying crates of delicious fruits and whipping up fabulous meals with the veg. We’ve been impressed by how seamless the process is too, it really is a win-win.

How you can support SToP

However, like any champion forging a path toward change, SToP faces its own set of challenges. Operating out of an unused warehouse in Leeds, the organisation is now grappling with exorbitant business rates and the recent loss of their delivery van. Yet, in the face of adversity, the community around them has rallied behind SToP, offering unwavering support and solidarity.

So, how can you be part of this incredible movement? Whether it’s visiting their warehouse in Leeds to fill your own food box, contributing to their crowdfunding campaign, or organising a volunteer day for your workplace team, there are myriad ways to make a difference.

In the often-confusing world of sustainability, Surplus to Purpose stands as a beacon of hope, inspiring us all to be aware of the impact of food waste, and showing us how we can do our bit.

Stay in touch with Surplus to Purpose

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