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Social enterprise reduces food waste and its costs

Livingston’s Larder Cook School is a social enterprise that focuses on reducing food poverty. It runs a cookery school, several community cafes and educational outreach programmes and redistributes food from the FareShare network.

In 2018, the organisation was experiencing challenges of growth. New and bigger projects and services had led to rising food costs, insufficient food storage, and increasing food waste.

Having found out about Zero Waste Scotland’s Waste Prevention Implementation Fund, they applied for support to invest in new equipment . The application process was very easy and efficient and the help we received during the whole procedure was excellent,”  says Dereick Rushton, Chef Manager at The Larder Cook School.

The funding bought the charity additional refrigerated and freezer storage, display cabinets, and high-volume vacuum packing equipment.  This new equipment has reduced its food waste on site by more than half;  allowing food waste uplift costs to stay low despite the Larder’s significantly increased activity.

The new storage has meant that the enterprise can take more surplus food from Fareshare and still reduce its spoilage. The vacuum packing equipment enables the kitchen to freeze additional portions for use when needed.

Prior to installing the new equipment, the kitchen had to batch cook the food as soon as it was received and did not have any facilities to store surplus. This meant that a lot of the prepared food had to be eaten within a day or two or be discarded as waste.  The new investment allows the charity to offer more meals to its users and to implement waste-reducing portion control and menu planning.  The kitchen has now set targets to reduce its food waste even further.

Rushton says: “If we had not received the support, our waste from spoilage and its disposal costs would probably have increased. Instead, we noticed a clear reduction in our waste levels. We have improved our preparation process with the vacuum packer; and the new freezer and fridge mean we can keep our products for an extra couple of days and take in more food from Fareshare”.

The Livingston Larder’s story illustrates how a simple investment in equipment can touch on multiple points in Scotland’s Food Waste Reduction Action Plan.  The charity was able to half its food waste, benefit more from the redistribution network, offer more meals within its community, and commit to even further waste reduction targets.

We're here to help you prevent waste and improve your profitability

Our food waste reduction advisors would be delighted to help your business make similar changes, at low or the phone. Get in touch to find out more, call 0786 433 930 or no cost. We provide advice on site and over email food.drink@zerowastescotland.org.uk

Our support is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.

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