London-based charity stops good food from going to waste

Environment and climate
Four people from City Harvest stood in front of of a city harvest sign holding pallets of vege

Photograph: City Harvest

Food waste is a key issue for the supply chain to resolve, but never more so than now, when increasing numbers of families are using food banks and global pressures are affecting supply. NFU President Minette Batters and Annabel Bagshaw of the NFU's food business unit visited City Harvest to learn more about solutions.

City Harvest tackles two of London's biggest issues; food poverty and food waste. It rescues nutritious, edible surplus food at risk of waste across the UK supply chain and redistributes enough food for 1.2 million meals a month.

Its mission is to ensure all people have access to fresh, nourishing food and no good food is wasted. The charity wants its London community to thrive, not just survive, and City Harvest food helps charity partners to deliver impact beyond free meals to vulnerable Londoners.

After meeting CEO of City Harvest, Sarah Calcutt, NFU President Minette Batters said: “At a time when families across the county are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis it is devastating to know that quality, nutritious food is being wasted.

“It was inspiring to hear how City Harvest is working tirelessly to provide a free, minimal-effort solution to ensure surplus nutritious British produce is not being wasted and is re-directed to those in need.”

Supporting 375 charities

City Harvest supports more than 375 charities in almost every London borough.

These organisations, many of which are user-led, feed those most in need and provide other vital support such as counselling, housing and legal help and employment training. City Harvest's partners include children’s programmes, food banks, community centres, homeless shelters, refuges for women fleeing domestic violence and families fleeing war-torn countries, and groups across London welcoming the elderly and isolated.


“At a time when families across the county are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis it is devastating to know that quality, nutritious food is being wasted.”

NFU President Minette Batters

Tragically, the charity is seeing more schools open food banks for families and teachers as the cost-of-living crisis has taken its toll.

How farmers are helping

City Harvest partners with farms and growers, manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors who might have surplus for a number of reasons, such as out-of-spec produce, order cancellations, packaging errors and obsolete seasonal stock, to name just a handful. It will happily accept fresh produce just as it comes – already packaged from the packhouse, or loose
in farm bins straight from your farm and easily accepts mixed produce, too.

City Harvest has a dedicated team of volunteers at its London depots who sort through and grade all donations, using the common sense approach of ‘would you eat it?’.

Behind the scenes

City Harvest collects produce from anywhere in the UK using a fleet of 17 City Harvest branded Sprinter vans and two 7.5t trucks, all of which are temperature controlled.

City Harvest rainbow fleet

It also has a strong partnership with several haulage companies which allows the charity to collect surplus and deliver it to their warehouses at no cost to you.

City Harvest does ask for a minimum of one pallet (or 250kg) per collection to ensure costs are kept down and CO2 emissions low, but there is no maximum amount of food that which can be accepted.

Farm bins and crates can be returned back to you for free, too.

Increasing demand

Sadly, City Harvest has seen a huge increase which has been largely due to the unprecedented levels of inflation the nation is experiencing. In order to be able to support everyone that needs their help, the charity needs your support to do so. Anything that can be donated, no matter size or type, will make a positive contribution towards City Harvest's mission of addressing food poverty.

How to get involved

You can get in touch with City Harvest's Food Team by calling 0207 041 8491, or emailing [email protected]. To find out more about donating food, visit:

The team will happily support with any queries and arrange collection or delivery. A solution to your surplus can be sorted in a matter of hours, preventing good food from going to waste.

Want to see what impact your donation could have? City Harvest has an online tool which calculates what impact your donation could have. For example, 10kg of food waste equates to 23 meals!

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