Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

NewsFood & Hunger

This Couple Fed 140 Wedding Guests With Food They Saved From the Bin

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The global food system is in crisis. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are facing malnutrition and food insecurity, while at the same time we’re literally throwing away perfectly edible food. Gestures like this wedding reception, while small, are vitally important in spreading awareness and in taking steps to enact change. You can join us to take action in support of the global goal for zero hunger here

A UK couple have fed their 140 wedding guests with a banquet of food that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

Newlyweds Cherie Harris and Jaimes Mainwaring brought in food waste charity the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP) to cater their wedding reception, held last Saturday in Leeds. 

“We wanted the food to speak for itself,” said Harris, who wanted her wedding to have as little environmental impact as possible. “We didn’t tell our guests what they were eating until the speeches.” 

Take action: Tweet Starbucks Asking Them to Donate 100% of Unused Food to Charity in the UK

“They were very surprised but also very impressed,” she told Metro. “The food was absolutely beautiful and really made our day. We could not have asked for anything better.” 

And, as well as saving food from the bin, the couple also saved themselves money, with their wedding feast reportedly costing just £5 a head for breakfast, and £3 a head for dinner. 

The menus reportedly included vegetable curries, pies, ratatouille, cold meats and pickles, a cheese board, oven-roasted thyme and lemon chicken, pasta dishes and, for pudding, cakes, and a tower of Gregg’s doughnuts.

Read more: Tesco Will Ditch 'Best Before' Labels on Fruit and Veg to Cut Food Waste

“What is wonderful is that we were able to use our wedding to spread the word about food waste and make people think about using up their own leftovers,” Cherie added.

It’s a very important message to share. One of the greatest paradoxes facing the global food industry is that of waste versus starvation.

In the UK alone, while the average household throws away £700 worth of edible food every year, 1 in 8 people go hungry every day. The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, reported in November 2017 that it had seen a 30% rise in demand in some parts of the UK in the seven months since April.

Globally, a UN report released in 2017 found that world hunger rose between 2015 and 2016 for the first time since 2000 — with the number of chronically undernourished people rising from 777 million to 815 million in just one year. 

Read more: How One Man Started a Food Waste Revolution in the UK

And yet, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — around 1.3 billion tonnes — is lost or wasted. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, food losses and waste amounts to around $680 billion in industralised countries, and $310 billion in developing countries. 

Harris and Mainwaring’s wedding is reported to have saved around 80lbs (36kg) of food from being wasted. On a global scale, yes, it’s a tiny amount. But it’s a start, and the RJFP’s work is building up. So far, the charity has saved over 1.1 million kgs of food and it’s fed over 44,000 people since December 2013. 

“[We want] to feed the world,” Project founder Adam Smith told Global Citizen in 2016, when the organisation celebrated the opening of the UK’s first food waste supermarket. “I hope that we’ll take more responsibility over our actions in regard to the production [of food]. I hope there will be a local food economy that’s sustainable, that doesn't depend on mass concentration of supermarkets that exploit people.”

Read more: 3 Changes You Should Make to Your Diet to Eat More Sustainably

“That’s where I’d ideally want to be,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be around in my lifetime. But hopefully we’ll be the catalyst to change so that it will happen in [my son’s] lifetime.” 

As well as food waste supermarkets, the Project also does event catering, runs “pay-as-you-feel” cafes, and supplies food for schools. The menus for the various outlets depend entirely on what turns up in the Project’s warehouses. 

The food is collected from mainstream supermarkets, cafes, restaurant chains, and fast food outlets, and, despite still being perfectly edible, it all would have been thrown away.