Lizzie and fellow GBBO contestant Freya at a South Liverpool Zero Waste Community venue. Image: Kathryn Bowman
The South Liverpool Zero Waste Community project, which counts Great British Bake Off (GBBO) contestant Lizzie Acker and DIY TV presenter Craig Phillips amongst its many fans, was started by three local people from Woolton.
Teacher Kathryn Bowman, her husband Dave, who runs a local business making furniture from reclaimed wood and their friend Pam Constance who works in children’s services, decided to begin the initative in March 2021.
Co-founder Kathryn told LiverpoolWorld: “We were already saving food from landfill using an app on our phones but found this incredibly restrictive – we wanted to build community and help as many people in the local community as we could, which this process didn’t allow.
“We were also hearing stories of people being turned away from food banks because they didn’t have the correct postcode or they had already been that month – we wanted an organisation that didn’t turn anybody away and was not about need or economic status but simply about saving surplus food from landfill and building community.”
She said the South Liverpool Zero Waste Community registered with their local environmental health officer and completed the necessary courses before starting at home with food saved from two shops.
The project now saves food from over 50 different outlets a week and has a team of around 60 volunteers helping out.
“We now have a huge and fantastic team running all over the city to collect surplus food and running these fantastic community events every day,” Kathryn said.
Food waste facts and stats
In UK households, 6.5 million tonnes of household food waste is thrown away every year, 4.5 million tonnes of which is edible.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has identified that better food date labelling, packaging and pricing can reduce the amount of food being thrown away due to it not being used in time.
The South Liverpool Zero Waste Community project say they have saved more than the weight of the Statue of Liberty from going to landfill.
How does the South Liverpool initiative work?
Volunteers collect surplus goods from different shops around the city, including major supermarkets and bakeries, and the food is then redistributed back into the community.
Kathryn said that between 30 to 55 families book a large bag of food to collect in the evenings and there are also open community events at several venues across the area such as St Colomba United Reformed Church in Hunts Cross, where every Friday between 11:00 and 12:00 people can come and take as much food as they can use.
The project distributes surplus food to Beaver and Brownie groups, a local women’s rugby club, food pantries, food banks and local childminders.
“We also work with other important charities and community groups such as Liverpool In Arms at Night and the Liverpool Muslim Outreach Society, who help to feed the most vulnerable in our society – the homeless, refugees and asylum seekers,” Kathryn explained.
South Liverpool Zero Waste Community uses All Souls Church hall in Allerton every Monday evening and they used the hall on New Year’s Eve at an event which proved to be extremely popular.
Natalie White, All Souls Church Hall lettings co-ordinator, said: “All Souls Church is delighted to be able to support the Zero Waste Community by providing our hall to allow the group to sort and distribute surplus food.
“The value of the work Kathryn and her team of volunteers do is so important especially in these uncertain times.
“People are able to receive free food without judgement regardless of their own situation; whether they come for financial or environmental reasons.
“At All Souls we care for all who are part of our local community and we are also working towards becoming an eco-church, partnering with South Liverpool Zero Waste Community, which enables us to mirror their ethos.”
Saved food delights from GBBO’s Lizzie
Liverpool-based Lizzie Acker and her family regularly save food from the South Liverpool Zero Waste Community.
Kathryn said: “Lizzie has promoted us on her social media and has brought our team delicious cakes that she has baked with saved food.”
Kathryn and the team would ideally like to have more community events, but need additional venues, volunteers, shops and restaurants on board.
The group is currently working towards becoming a community interest company so they can apply for funding to have an even greater impact on the wider community and the fight against climate change.
The ambitions don’t stop there and Kathryn, Dave and Pam would like the South Liverpool Zero Waste Community to have a permanent base where people can come in and out during the day to save food.
She said: “We want the centre to have a cafe serving healthy meals made with saved food and we would offer cookery lessons.
“As community is very important to us, we would also like the centre to not just focus on food but have other objectives, such as a safe place for school children to come each evening to complete their homework with qualified teachers like myself.”