Food Rescue

The Hornbeam’s Food Rescue project

At The Hornbeam we aim to use food as a way to engage communities and connect people across barriers. We are concerned with the environmental impact of food waste and the social issue of food poverty in the borough. Our Food Rescue project grew out of this concern and has continued to develop! Below are the 3 pillars that have shaped this project.

Eat Surplus food, Reduce our Environmental Impact! 

Each year, UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food that could be eaten.  Not only are we wasting food but we are wasting the water, land, energy and fuel to produce and transport that food. All surplus food that is thrown away contributes to climate change. At The Hornbeam, we sort and use the surplus food to feed ourselves and our communities, knowing that the long-term solution is to reduce the surplus food at its origin – both in households and the food supply chain.

Working towards reducing food poverty 

Almost two million Londoners, of whom an estimated 400,000 are children under the age of 16, struggle to afford or access a sufficient diet. At The Hornbeam, our partners The Gleaners Cafe run a pay-what-you-feel cafe where they offer vegan hot meals to anyone in the community. All meals are cooked from surplus food. Although structural changes are needed to end poverty, on a ground-level, we support vulnerable people living with hunger every day with our surplus food. The food at The Hornbeam is for everyone’s consumption – anyone who wants to reduce food waste and have a meal is welcome!

Building Communities

Everyday our volunteers collect surplus food, sort donations, prepare meals, distribute them and consume them together. We believe in a ‘solidarity, not charity’ model, where we recognise that all relationships are multi-directional in power: everyone has wisdom to give and resources to share & take. The Hornbeam is run by the community for the community, welcoming people of all ages and backgrounds. People coming together around food, making new friends, getting to know each other across boundaries is how we believe strong communities are built. 

What we do

1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry every year in the UK (according to a WRAP report). As the Food Rescue project we redistribute food that is still good to eat, but has become surplus due to overproduction, labelling errors, or exceeding best-before dates.

We accept surplus food from food businesses (supermarkets, grocers, markets) and redistribute it to where it’s needed – including to The Gleaners community cafe at The Hornbeam. We have a network of food rescue stalls that individuals have set up across the borough.

There are 9 community kitchens in Waltham Forest that cook daily for the residents who are vulnerable and in need of food. As Hornbeam we provide surplus food to the community kitchens, as well as to the Gleaners Cafe that served up to 700 people weekly during COVID.

We provide surplus food for the food stalls and community kitchens in and around the Borough of Waltham Forest. Most of these food stalls are open to everyone, no referrals needed. A few of them require a referral form. Please get in touch with us for more info! The places and times of the food stalls are as follows:

The Food Stalls in Waltham Forest

MondayPriory Court from 1 pm to 2 pm
TuesdayHighams Park from 11 am to 2 pm
Friday Hill from 2 pm to 3 pm
Seddon Centre from 5.30 am to 6.30 pm
WednesdayChingford Seven Day Adventist Church from 14.00
ThursdayThe Drive from 12 am to 2 pm

Community Meals

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we would come together as a community on Mondays to cook and eat together. This was free and open to everyone. It was a much-loved gathering and while we are no longer able to do these, we hope to be able to come together for a community meal in person soon.

Our Suppliers: 

There are big organisations such as Felix Project, Fareshare and City Harvest that are collecting fresh surplus food from the food industry ie. food retailers or directly from the producer and shares this food with charities and other organisations. Along with these big surplus food distributors, we receive surplus food weekly from our local bakery Today Bread, some local grocery shops in the borough of Waltham Forest and individuals who want to donate their surplus food. We also receive weekly surplus from our partners OrganicLea, who have a food growing site in Chingford. Since the Covid-19 outbreak we have been working closely with the Waltham Forest Council and receiving daily donations from them which substantially increased our scope of operation during lockdown.

Fare Share

Organic Lea

Other links & resources: