Getting to know Open Kitchens: Q&A
Questions and Answers with Alex Grundy
Open Kitchens is a national food solution that brings together restaurants & their communities to fund, produce & deliver free meals to those in need. Their service, Meal Dash, enables children who live in food insecurity to be given food parcels comprised of the 3 million tonnes of food surplus which goes to waste in the British supply chain.
Today I’ll be interviewing Co-founder of Open Kitchens Alex Grundy, to get an insight into how Open Kitchens is helping #FeedThoseInNeed.
So Alex, when was Open Kitchens founded and what does the initiative mean to you?
Open Kitchens was founded in March 2020, as Adam and I wanted to help during the pandemic. We had the idea of using local restaurants to serve food to those in the community and it evolved from there. To date, we’ve served hundreds of thousands of meals and help raise over £500,000. We’re very proud of Open Kitchens, we’ve had fantastic generosity from the public, educational sector, and hospitality sectors plus an army of OK Volunteers.
Does Open Kitchens make life easier for families?
Definitely! Public donations from the local community fund the cost of ingredients, then local restaurants volunteer to cook meals which are distributed to a network of charities via our food distribution partners. Families in need receive food for free.
Through popular demand, our surplus food products are now also available to purchase. We use perfectly fresh surplus food, this enables us to keep the cost of food parcels down to a minimum and qualifying schools and families can purchase nutritious surplus food parcels at a fraction of the recommended retail price. Not only that but we provide last-mile delivery services, so families can shop stigma-free while also helping reduce CO2 emissions.
For example, Greenwood Academies Trust purchased 1,780 food parcels for families within their schools. Together we delivered the equivalent of 50,000 meals and prevented 52 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere, all using the Meal Dash platform.
Does Open Kitchens also help the environment?
We rescue surplus food from a national supply chain, which for every 1 kg of the surplus we save from landfill, this prevents 2.5 kg of CO2 emissions. The amount of surplus food that is going to waste in the UK is astonishing and somewhat embarrassing. Open Kitchens has a National Food Surplus Ledger and are inviting all retailers, growers, manufacturers and wholesalers nationwide to participate in this food surplus marketplace.
Do you believe the last 12 months have been a key point in improving the public awareness of these issues? Especially with Marcus Rashford taking a stand and influencing government.
Yes, Covid-19 has helped put food poverty issues into the public eye and top marks to Marcus Rashford. However, although the UK appear to be getting better control of covid-19; the food crisis in the UK is far from over and the fight against the environmental impact is only just beginning. Food accounts for 10% to 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions and in the UK we throw away 1/3, whilst 2.3 million children live in food insecurity.
What are Open Kitchens’ plans for the future?
We’ve ambitious plans, our mission is to deliver nutrition for every vulnerable child in the UK, in a sustainable manner. We’ve recently partnered with Community Brands and Ferry Fast, together using state of the art logistic technology, data and analytics we plan to combat the huge environmental, health and social issues of food waste and malnutrition.