Tackling food waste through social entrepreneurship in the UK
Dillard University Junior Fellows Olu Joaquim and Aaliyah Cummings and Ashesi Fellow Beryl Nana Akuffo-Kwapong were selected for a two-week Changemaker Exchange Program at the University of Northampton in the United Kingdom. The program focuses on Social Entrepreneurship and Community Development, and their participation was sponsored through the Melton Foundation’s Action Grant. Here is the report:
The Changemaker Exchange Program enabled Melton Fellows to gain more knowledge about social entrepreneurship through conceptual learning. They volunteered at Elsie’s Cafe, a social enterprise in Northampton that operates a food project with a major goal of food waste reduction, while operating a “Pay As You Feel” business model.
The University of Northampton is the first Ashoka Changemaker Campus in the UK. It operates a well-equipped Changemaker Hub with resources that will enable global citizens to develop ideas into reality. The fellows plan to utilize this opportunity to generate and develop ideas and contribute towards solving global problems.
Elsie’s Café, a social enterprise in Northampton, England focuses on reducing food waste by utilizing food rescued from grocery stores to make delicious meals which are then offered to customers who have the flexibility to pay as they feel – either by money, services or skills. Elsie’s Café is addressing two major problems through its operation, which includes reduction of food waste and the mitigation of hunger by providing appetizing meals attained from ingredients that would have been wasted. The organization relies solely on volunteers to cook the meals and serve the customers. The fellows were able to help with cooking, serving and cleaning while also learning the business model and social impact of Elsie’s Café.
“As one highly committed to reducing food waste, I have been working with the other Melton Fellows at Dillard University and Sodexo Cafeteria to raise awareness about food waste at Dillard University and to encourage trayless dinning as a way to reduce the waste,” Fellow Oluseun Joaquim says. “As a result, it was great to volunteer at Elsie’s café and was fulfilling to provide suggestions on how Elsie’s can improve its operations. This opportunity enabled me utilize my experience in food waste management while also learning about Elsie’s business model which I believe should be replicated in different countries as a way to eradicate hunger and reduce food waste.”
In order to raise awareness about the amount of bread wasted in the UK – over 12 million slices of bread daily – the fellows worked with some other volunteers in building a bread house which was displayed at the 2016 Umbrella Fair, a major sustainability fair in Northampton.
In addition, they presented a Global Citizenship Education session to the students of the National Citizen Service currently enrolled at the University of Northampton in order to introduce them to the Melton Foundation and encourage them to become better global citizens.