Youth Rising: Bethan's Food Waste Initiative
Ready to be inspired? Youth Rising – our short documentary series for E4 True Stories – has landed. And kicking it off is NCS grad Bethan, with her incredible initiative that’s making a huge impact in the food world. Have a read of her story and catch it in full here.
In a nutshell, what’s your story?
Hey, I’m Bethan I’m 17 and I am an NCS disruptor (a passionate young campaigner). My story is of combating food waste whilst feeding the community and those less advantaged.
What inspired you to start?
Combating food waste is something I’m so passionate about due to our current environmental crisis as well as the amount of inequality that I’ve seen within society, especially when it comes to individuals needing food. This inspired me to go out and make a difference.
And what was the first thing you did to get started?
It started by working with a community café, which was a work placement as part of my catering course. We would provide leftover food to the homeless in the area as well as giving fresh food packages such as fruit and vegetables to young people.
Did you face any challenges along the way? How did you overcome them?
When starting this project I didn’t really know where to begin, which is where NCS came in, giving me guidelines and support to make it possible. First we did the boring stuff such as looking for a venue and collecting food... and then looking at a possible menu that’d work with the food we were able to acquire, plus making the venue look like a five star restaurant and reaching out to those in the Kensington community that would benefit from a meal out.
However, there was quite a lot of anxiety surrounding the event, such as whether anyone was going to turn up, did we have enough food and enough chairs? And some members of the community weren’t very keen on me knocking on their door or talking to them in the street.
But we overcame these challenges which was all down to how important this community project is and how the local community will value it right now and in the future. That made every challenge worthwhile, helped me to focus on what needed to be done and allowed me to concentrate on creating an event for the community.
Do you have any advice for young people looking to make a change?
My advice to young people is to start small. Little things such as volunteering at a food bank or a local shelter once a month can help support your community and local area. Then take opportunities, be brave, ask questions and put yourself out there, all very scary things to do, but it’s how you can help people.
Start small and work your way up and soon you’ll be running a project which is absolutely amazing. The faces of the people you help and how much it means to them will astonish you, aka I cried at one point as I was so overwhelmed with the appreciation from others.
What one small change could make a big difference?
There are lots, like offering leftover food to a family member or friend who may struggle to cook. Or by buying the exact amount that you need for cooking. Also looking for yellow labels in supermarkets for food you can use that day or freeze to use in the future. That’s always a very good tip, both for your pocket and the environment.
What are your hopes for the future?
More awareness about food waste in society. The amount of food that is wasted in the UK is extortionate and yet there are still so many people living below the poverty line.
The hope that more projects like this one will access food waste from supermarkets, from independent shops, or anywhere that is available and then use it to feed those in the community who may otherwise not be able to access the nutrition that they need.
Also removing usable food from the food waste system which will reduce the environmental factors that happen through food waste. For example, there’s an increase in greenhouse gases due to the biodegrading food releasing carbon dioxide.
Check out Bethan’s inspiring short documentary over on E4’s YouTube Channel.