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New lease of life given to 'out-of-date' food on campus

Sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables that have passed their sell-by date are no longer being binned across campus thanks to a new partnership with the Real Junk Food Project.

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Chartwells Catering, which operates the main food outlets across the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) campus, is now donating to the city’s branch of the project any edible items it can no longer use.

Chartwells this month set up a ‘shopping basket’ in its main kitchen in the Food Village in the Vijay Patel Building where the unwanted items are placed.

In its first week, it donated 166 sandwiches from across the campus.

“Food that is damaged, pre-packaged food items that have reached their sell-by date and are no longer suitable for sale, and fresh fruit and vegetables that are not suitable for us to use will be placed in the basket and will be collected by the Real Junk Food Leicester team on a weekly basis,” explained Jema Wyatt-MacDonald, student engagement and marketing manager at Chartwells.

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The Leicester branch of the Real Junk Food Project was set up in 2015 by Alison Preston and DMU Music, Technology and Innovation (MTI) graduate Bobby Hawkins.

It sources food from places such as supermarkets and wholesalers which has been over-ordered or which has reached its ‘best before’ date but is still edible.

The food, labelled as waste in accordance with environmental health regulations, is sorted and used to cook meals or to serve up on a pay-as-you-feel basis.

People can pay with money or through a contribution of their time, skills and efforts to help with food collection, food preparation, or washing up.

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The project runs twice-a-week cafe lunches at the West End Neighbourhood Centre in Andrewes Street on Tuesdays and Fridays (11am-2pm) plus evening meals on Thursdays from 7pm to 8.30pm.

Student volunteers help out at the café through #DMUlocal and when the project serves up Christmas lunches at its annual party for pensioners and disadvantaged people from across Leicester.

Bobby said: “We have had a lot of links with the university from the very beginning. Our very first catering event was at DMU for my old MTI department.

“We’ve also done a lot with the DMU Square Mile team and had a lot of student volunteers, so our partnership is ongoing and growing.

“But this gets to the core of exactly what we do. It’s great to be able to find a solution to the waste food at DMU and this is a great next step for us.”

Any students who have a spare couple of hours to help out can volunteer through the Real Junk Food Project website and Facebook page.
Posted on Wednesday 28th June 2017

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