Tesco launches community cookery school in food redistribution drive

Supermarket giant Tesco, food redistribution firm FareShare and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have teamed up to launch a community education programme teaching members of the public how to minimise food waste.

Around 1,000 people will be trained for free under the scheme by the end of 2019

Around 1,000 people will be trained for free under the scheme by the end of 2019

The scheme, which launched in Islington this week, will see more than 1,000 members of the general public taught how best to use surplus food donations to create nutritious, waste-free meals by the end of 2019.

Lessons will be facilitated by FareShare and Tesco staff and focus on basic cookery techniques, such as knife skills and making base sauces from scratch, as well as how to prepare “unusual or unexpected” ingredients often included in surplus food donations.

The course will be offered for free, with the first lessons having been taught by Jamie Oliver this week at the Goodinge Community Centre in North London. It will be rolled out to an undisclosed number of other community hubs across the UK by the end of the year, Tesco said in a statement.

“Surplus food donations can make a huge difference to people in need, but can also create challenges for community cooks faced with unexpected, unusual or large volumes of a particular product,” Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis said.

“With Jamie Oliver’s help, we believe we can inspire, train and support charities to do even more with the donations they receive. Together, we can bring tasty and nutritious food to more people in communities across the UK.”

Once the courses are completed, attendees will be given a booklet of best practice advice on cooking with food donations, including recipes created by Jamie Oliver. 

Food (waste) fight

Tackling food waste has formed a key part of Tesco’s sustainability strategy since 2009, when it made a commitment to stop sending food products to landfill.

In 2013, it became the first UK supermarket to publicly publish its food waste data and, three years later, it forged a partnership with FareShare in a bid to distribute all food fit for human consumption to charities and community groups.

To date, Tesco has donated 60 million meals through the platform. Throughout 2018, an average of 30,000 meals was redistributed through the Tesco-FareShare partnership every week, supporting 7,000 non-profit organisations.

The supermarket is notably a signatory of WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 Commitment, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger. Lewis chairs a collaborative group – Champions 12.3 - aimed at reaching that particular goal.

The retailer's other recent actions to slash food waste include removing "best before" dates - which are believed to trigger around 600,000 tonnes of consumer food waste annually - from more than 100 of its fruit and vegetable lines, and encouraging 27 of its largest suppliers to disclose food waste data.

Sarah George


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