CofE backs campaign to reduce food waste

The government should take steps to tackle food poverty and take steps to minimise food waste, according to the Church of England.

The General Synod meeting in London backed a motion brought by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich outlining ways retailers and Church of England members can attempt to tackle food poverty in Britain.

The motion also stressed the need for church members to reduce waste in their own homes.

Celebrity baker Tom Herbert at the launch of Tearfund's campaign to highlight the scale of food waste in the UK. The bread used for the photographs was donated by the Felix Project, a food waste redistribution charity, and was used afterwards.Clive Mear/Tearfund

Introducing the motion, Rev Andrew Dotchin said: 'The figures on food waste in our nation are horrible and rehearsing them will not make them any more attractive.'

Although there is no official measure of food poverty in the UK, a recent United Nations survey found that in 2014, an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK were living in households with insufficient food.

Dotchin said: 'We must work not only with shops and the supply chain – and our thanks and support go to retailers who have already made a commitment to reducing food waste – but also work alongside the many charities and community groups who, with us, treasure the world and its people.'

According to Tearfund, which is running a Renew Our Food campaign, a third of the food produced throughout the world is never eaten and UK food waste is responsible for 20 million tonnes worth of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Senior campaigner Clare Lyons said: 'We're delighted that synod has shown that, like Jesus, the Church cares about food waste.'

She said food waste fuels climate change that causes more floods, drought and famine, hitting the poorest hardest. 

'Tearfund's Renew Our Food campaign has already gathered the support of more than 10,000 people who are joining their voices to convince supermarkets to halve their food waste. So far Aldi, Tesco and M&S have committed to this, and we urgently need our other UK retailers to raise their ambition and follow suit.

'If the Church of England's 16,000 parishes call for action too, we could see a real shift in our fight against food waste, to protect the poorest.'