Tackling food poverty with an eco-friendly tuk-tuk

It’s a novel approach to tackling food poverty, using dishes made from salvaged food and delivered around the streets of Aberdeen in an eco-friendly electric tuk-tuk.

Local charity Community Food Initiatives North East are trying to raise  £12,000 in crowdfunding in the next few weeks to get the idea off the ground. They’re already a third of the way to their target.

Tuk In will use ‘in-date’ food that would have otherwise been sent to landfill, to create delicious, healthy, low cost meals prepared by volunteers in the charity’s community kitchen, Cook at the Nook.

The aim is to deliver these healthy meals straight to the areas and to the people who need them, and sell the dishes at either low or no cost. To raise money, Tuk In will also visit selected campuses and business premises around Aberdeen, selling meals on a pay-as-you-feel basis, with the profits ploughed back into the business.

Sean McVeigh, Tuk In project development worker, is passionate about getting the idea off the ground. “While the tuk-tuk is a low carbon way of getting around, it’s also caught people’s imaginations. Part of our role is to raise awareness about food poverty, food waste, sustainability and healthy eating. The tuk-tuk is a great talking point, it’s quirky and will enable us to spread our message, disseminate info and hand out healthy recipes throughout the city.”

Community Food Initiatives North East staff know first-hand about the Granite City’s food poverty, despite its one-time reputation for affluence. A food bank operates from their premises on Poynernook Road, where 12,000 emergency food parcels will be distributed in 2017 – a 20% rise on 2016. The issue of food poverty in Aberdeen is getting worse rather than better which has been put down, in large part, to the recent oil slump.

The food for Tuk In will come from FareShare, a UK-wide scheme which diverts food from landfill. “In 2017, we will redistribute 500 tonnes of food to charities and community hubs around Aberdeen and the north-east,” says Sean. A complementary long-term goal of Tuk In is to provide employment within Aberdeen, employing a part-time cook and driver, financed through meal sales.

The original idea for Tuk In came from a group of students taking part in CityLab, a programme involving Aberdeen City Council, the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University. CityLab allows the students to focus on urban challenges and come up with innovative solutions. The idea was the brainchild of psychology student Bogdan Goroneanu, computer science student Robyn Hannaford, and marketing student Jordan Pellerin.

Jordan says: “Tuk In came about by looking at how we could reduce food waste and food poverty in the city. We wished to create a social enterprise different from for-profit and non-profit businesses, allowing us to generate profit re-used to support social or environmental causes. After some meetings with different stakeholders, Community Food Initiatives North East were the obvious partner to implement the project because of the causes they supported, their food supply-chain experience and their new training kitchen. We hope the money can be raised to see Tuk In in action on our streets.”

Tuk In has already received £5000 from the Fairer Aberdeen Fund. Of the remaining £12,000 hoped to be raised via crowd-funding, £8000 will be added to the £5000 donation to buy the iconic electric tuk-uk, while £1,000 will cover initial start-up costs, and the remaining £3000 will be used to pay staff, cover volunteer travel expenses, and provide training.

Sean and Community Food Initiatives North East are aiming high: “We want to see a whole fleet of tuk-tuks initially around Aberdeen, but in the future we think the idea can be rolled out across the country – tuk-tuks going around really making a difference where it’s needed most.”

To support the crowdfunding campaign, go here 

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