UK hunger, food waste and FareShare: what could your business do?
A team of Profusion staff just volunteered at food poverty charity FareShare, helping in its warehouse and delivering surplus food to charities around London. So what does UK hunger have to do with Profusion and its people? Business manager Hanna Peltonen spoke with Louise Scott in this Q&A
What is Profusion doing with FareShare, and when did it begin?
Our staff voted for food poverty and homelessness to become the ‘themes’ for the work of our social impact foundation, Profusion Cares. Earlier this year we chose five charities that work in these areas, and put them to the vote. FareShare, with its mission and the way it works to alleviate food poverty, became a very clear winner with our team.
At Profusion we strongly feel that by concentrating our efforts on one food poverty charity, we can make a greater impact than we would by supporting several charities at the same time.
FareShare appealed to most of us because we like the way it links two problems to create a solution. Specifically, these problems are:
- There are many people who go hungry because they can’t afford to buy food or themselves
- The way food is produced and distributed results in it being used inefficiently. This produces a surplus, much of which goes to waste.
How much awareness do you feel there is about how this issue and how it affects people in the UK?
I think people are quite aware. Recently there has been an increase in awareness due to the conversations around food waste. This has spurred some relatively new organisations, like FareShare, to enter the arena with ways to use this surplus of food. The emergence of these organisations is highlighting the fact that this surplus exists. The counterpoint to excess food is food poverty. It begs the question: Why is there such inequality?
When we chose food poverty as our cause, our people were already very understanding of the issues because we live in London – a city with a very high cost of living and a lot of visible inequalities. Our offices are near Old Street in Silicon Roundabout, just down the road from one of the world’s major financial centres. Personally, I live in Tower Hamlets, which is one of the most deprived boroughs of London but home to Canary Wharf. The contrasts between wealth and poverty sitting side by side are very visible and palpable.
Why is Profusion, a commercial business, doing this kind of work at all?
We feel that all businesses have a responsibility to society and the communities we work in. Our volunteers who mentor young people and our work with schools is very local.
At Profusion we have quite a young workforce. They are very much aware of societal issues, and they want to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. This is something Profusion’s management and values as a company align with. We are more than a marketing tech/data/AI company – we have a wider role to play. Businesses have a responsibility to not do harm, but also to improve on societal values. We can use our skills and experience to support charities and help them realise their visions.
Describe the partnership between Profusion and FareShare so far ….
We announced the partnership in early August and began to build a closer relationship. Then we looked at how best we could provide support. As well as our volunteer day last week, we’ve been promoting FareShare’s Tesco Food Collection, on 21-23 November. This involves volunteers giving out FareShare shopping lists to Tesco customers in store, suggesting the most useful food items they could buy to donate to FareShare for redistribution to charities.
How do you personally feel about being involved in Profusion Cares and this initiative?
I come from the non-profit sector and have a background in international development. I want Profusion to be part of the bigger picture – the UN sustainable development goals as common goals to make the world a better place. Businesses in particular have a huge part to play and together we can work towards reaching these goals. Through the Global Compact, businesses can contributing to the SDGs by acting on specific commitments to doing so.
So for me, it’s about knowing that the small contribution I personally make make goes towards achieving common goals. I hope that by doing so within Profusion and aligning the work of Profusion Cares and our staff with bigger goals, it inspires other people and businesses to do the same. This really inspires me to do my best for Profusion Cares.
Recently I’ve developed a framework to clearly articulate how our work through Profusion Cares aligns with the SDGs.
What would you say to members of other businesses reading this blog post?
Any company can play its part. We’re not a big company but we’ve achieved a lot here in 2019, without putting too much pressure on ourselves.
It really is about connecting with the bigger picture. Listen to your staff. Hear what they think and feel about societal issues, and what they’re witnessing in their local communities. What do they see as the solutions and how they can play a part in those? Narrow it down to a focused impact, linked to the bigger picture and the UN sustainability goals. And if you’d like to have a chat about how we’ve done it, I really welcome you to get in touch with me.
Email Hanna at email@example.com
What some of the Profusion volunteers had to say …
“I was genuinely surprised about the amount of food FareShare turns around in the warehouse. I was also shocked when the team told us they only see about 7-9% of food that goes to waste in the UK. Everyone who is privileged enough to not worry where their next meal is coming from should spend a day volunteering somewhere like this.”
Angie Wright, sales partnership manager
“Seeing the amount of surplus food really puts things into perspective. Especially in a warehouse of this size. I see food wastage everywhere around me and really dislike it, which is why getting involved was a
no- brainer for me. Also so I can bang on about it to everyone and maybe they will start giving food and wastage more thought!”
Kat Bucon, campaign manager
“I love my job and working with Profusion and its clients, but it does feel very rewarding to spend a day directly helping less fortunate people than yourself and knowing that you’re making a difference. I would recommend a team volunteering day at FareShare to any company.”
John Underwood, team leader – project architects
“This was a good team building exercise with meaning, and I got to know some more great people at Profusion. I was surprised by the amount of
great produce being thrown away by supermarkets. FareShare needs more volunteers to do the much-needed work it does, so any little help is
Asaf Levy, head of product
For more about social impact foundation Profusion Cares, go to: