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Brief Published: 25 Mar 2019

Tesco Teaches Communities to Cook with Waste


As conversations around food waste proliferate, brands are seeking ways to reduce their footprint. To this end, UK supermarket chain Tesco has launched a school that teaches community cooks how to maximise donated surplus grocery items.

The company has collaborated with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and UK food distribution charity FairShare to launch a teaching programme for 1,000 chefs in the UK who volunteer for food banks, homeless shelters, refuges and children's breakfast clubs.

The school will teach them how best to prepare surplus food donated by the supermarket to community food schemes. This often includes large amounts of end-of-shelf-life fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meat and dairy items and seasonal produce, ranging widely in variety and freshness.

The campaign aims to help cooks use every scrap of surplus food. To this end, they are taught everything from knife skills and nutritional balance, to recipes for versatile base sauces. They also receive a folder of adaptable recipes conceived by Jamie Oliver.

The UK food industry wastes 100,000 tonnes of readily available and edible food each year, despite the 43,000 tonnes already redistributed by retailers and manufacturers to charities. Tesco's chief executive Dave Lewis said: "Surplus food donations make a huge difference to people in need, but also create challenges for community cooks faced with unexpected, unusual or large volumes of a particular product. We want to train and support charities to do even more with the donations they receive."

This initiative is a great example of how brands can connect with communities through food education, while at the same time improving their sustainability credentials. Read Culinary Education for more on this thinking in action.