Food Column: Fantastic to see an organisation like Food Works expanding its operation
They collect and upcycle quality surplus food and locally grown ingredients, sharing them in their market or turning them into delicious food and drink in their kitchens and cafes. They are also part of Sheffield’s network of food growers, developing hyperlocal food production through community growing on their farm. And now they want to expand that work further with a new cafe and a bigger, better farm!
Food Works has three main priorities: creating value, building Communities around food and inspiring change.
As an organisation, they create value by following sustainable and environmental practices, getting the best out of food by ensuring it isn’t wasted and applying passion and skills to how they use it.
Food Works is a commons where communities can contribute what they can so that everyone can get what they need. By bringing local people together through the food they source and meals they cook, they are helping create more robust, resilient communities. They are inspiring change by being that change, showing that a different world is possible with volunteer opportunities, alternative community building and helping people and the planet too.
Since 2015, they have fed thousands of people and saved thousands of tonnes of food waste, all with a Pay What You Can approach. Their Handsworth market is open seven days a week and serves 100+ food boxes daily. It’s open to everyone to come and pick up surplus food rescued from going to waste.
Any food that can’t be sold at the market is made into delicious meals at their kitchen cafes in Sharrow and Upperthorpe. There are also over ten partner hubs open across the city where you can collect Food Works Meals, all made from surplus ingredients.
Plus, ten wards at Sheffield Children's Hospital have just started stocking Food Works Meals along with several schools and South Yorkshire Housing Association.
The Food Works model brings affordable access to food to the communities in which they operate. While supermarkets continue to raise their prices far above inflation and pay very little to their farmers and suppliers, it’s great to see a Pay What You Can approach which benefits everyone involved. Shoppers get healthy, nutritious food at a price they can afford.
Food Works can continue to expand and help others in Sheffield access inexpensive, nourishing meals. We all benefit from saving food from going to landfills and choosing hyperlocal food. Win, Win, Win.
But Food Works hopes to reach even more people over the next few years with their impressive plans to expand. Firstly, they want to open a third kitchen cafe to use even more of the surplus ingredients that are available in the city.
Food waste is a big issue in the UK today, and the food that Food Works saves helps reduce this problem. When fresh produce and packaged items are thrown away, it causes massive environmental damage without benefitting the world.
Creating food uses energy, water and other resources, which can damage ecosystems and exacerbate the climate crisis. If it all goes into a big hole in the ground, all that work and energy is for nothing.
Furthermore, any packaging that makes it to landfill breaks down, causing toxicity in the soil and waterways and spreading microplastics in many cases.
Even vegetables and fruit sent to landfills will produce damaging methane. Food can be composted instead and create a beneficial resource for farmers and growers nationwide. But, before that step, let’s use the food we already have by redirecting this perfectly edible food to projects like Food Works cafes.
Food Works is also looking to move its hyperlocal farm to a bigger plot of land. Over the past few years, they have grown an impressive variety of fruits and vegetables at their farm in S2.
This food has supplemented the surplus ingredients, filling their marketplace boxes and adding to cafe meals. With a larger plot of land, they can grow even more food in the city, providing a healthy, sustainable, local food source for our Sheffield folk.
They also have plans to roll out the Food Works market model to six new locations across the city.
Working in collaboration with Sheffield City Council and community partners, the six new market sites will operate one day a week as a 'pop-up' market alongside the permanent site in Handsworth.
It’s fantastic to see an organisation like Food Works expanding its operation. The climate emergency and the cost of living crisis need immediate action, and Food Works is providing solutions directly in our communities.
If you think the Food Works model sounds like a great idea, there are many ways to get involved: visit their market or cafes, volunteer with 300+ others, or donate surplus food if you are a business, farmer or allotment grower. And if you know of a potential location for their new cafe or farm, they would love to hear from you. To learn more or get in touch, visit the Food Works website: https://thefoodworks.org.
ShefFood is the food partnership for Sheffield. They are a cross-sector partnership of organisations committed to creating a more sustainable food system for Sheffield. For more information or to get involved, please contact ShefFood's Partnership Coordination Team at [email protected] or visit sheffood.org.uk