I’m driven by a belief that we could do much better. In one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, some people barely scrape by from day to day, whilst there is so much ‘stuff’ that it can be thrown away – including good food. Redirecting surplus food to people who struggle isn’t the answer to the systemic problem, but for me it’s a temporary solution and an act of solidarity. We can live differently, giving everyone a chance to flourish, in a society that is more thoughtful, connected and kind. Based on those principles, a friend and I started the Lancaster People’s Cafe and then I set up the first intercepted food club in the district. When there was a flourishing network of independent food clubs, I worked to establish an intercepted food depot – Eggcup. In my day job, I’m a psychologist, and if I had any spare time I would be writing, painting and paddling my sadly neglected canoe.
I strongly believe that re-directing surplus food to those who need it is a small step along the way to social and environmental justice. My involvement in and commitment to eggcup – eradicating food waste and poverty – is based on this belief. I am aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of inter-being and compassion, and to learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and our Earth.
I have lifelong convictions about equality and rights and I am dismayed that we are regressing as a society into greater inequality, with many people unable to afford the basics of life, not even food. At the same time, this is the fifth largest economy in the world, and we live amidst plenty, with millions of tons of food going to waste – with all the implications that has for environmental degradation. My values led me to become involved with Eggcup as I see it as a tiny step to try and reverse some of that.
I came to eggcup through my other volunteering activities, where I saw how many people have difficulty getting enough food for themselves and their families. The food banks deal with brief crises, such as a benefits sanction or the sudden loss of a job. But we need longer- term ways to work with and support the many people who are always just on the edge of getting by, with jobs that don’t pay enough or give variable hours, and with erratic and punitive benefits.
So I joined this project thinking about food poverty. But as I’ve worked with my colleagues, I have become more aware of just how much food is wasted, of how it has become part of the system of food production and distribution, and of how much it costs the environment. (And I’ve become more aware of the waste in my own practices of shopping, cooking, and eating). The long-term challenge is both reducing food waste, and getting food that is in the wrong place to people who can use it.
To answer the question everyone asks me as soon as I open my mouth, I am originally from Idaho, in the Rocky Mountains of the western USA. I came to the UK more than 35 years ago, and taught linguistics for many years at Lancaster University. I retired two years ago. When I am not volunteering, I like to walk and take photos.