The Real Junk Food Project

I’ve been working in software testing roles with SBG since 2017 and like all colleagues, I have been able to use 16 hours of volunteering time, each year, to support various local charities during my usual office hours.

During the early stages of the pandemic, I saw a post online about the increasing number of people using food banks out of necessity due to reduced hours, furlough pay and bigger utility bills incurred during lockdown. By this point, Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) had made it their priority to protect jobs despite the pandemic’s impact to the business and although I had realised that not everybody was in such a fortunate position, I had not considered the true scale of the problem.

The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) is an environmental charity which takes food from supermarkets and suppliers, which would be destined for landfill, and redistributes it. The edible food is made available to everyone through our activities; catering, pay-as-you-feel (PAYF) stores, magic boxes and schools. Coronavirus has exacerbated the problem of food deemed no longer fit for sale, but The Real Junk Food Project was able to support its purpose-built network of charities, schools and community hubs through redistributing food throughout the pandemic at scale – between April and June 2020, TRJFP intercepted 800 tons of surplus food, the equivalent of over 1.9 million meals.

I initially got involved by delivering food parcels to people’s homes during lockdown. After working from home during the day I really enjoyed these small social interactions and knowing I was helping people locally.

I then became a regular volunteer at the Kindness Warehouse in Stourton, Leeds. The charity collects donations from supermarkets, distribution centres, hospitality, farms, events, and many more food establishments. In the warehouse, volunteers quality control these donations, build the food boxes and act as a collection point for the Magic Boxes sold via the app [Too Good To Go (TGTG)|https://toogoodtogo.co.uk/en-gb].

I have also helped out with the route planning and deliveries of The Real Junk Food Project’s Kindness Christmas campaign. The Kindness Christmas project delivered over 5,000 food parcels and gifts to homes across West Yorkshire and in doing so saved 70+ tonnes of food.

Most recently, I assisted for the day at our newest pay-as-you-feel café within LS-TEN where TRJFP serve a range of meals made from surplus food. As such, the menu varies daily depending on what food has been intercepted.

Author: Marion Duncan