Lions International – Leek Gleaning Project

Dr. Chris Hibbert, Head of Business Improvement at Roger Bullivant, is the National Hunger Officer at Lions International in the British Isles and formed the Lions Gleaning Hub two years ago. Since then, more than 38 tonnes of food from eight counties – including Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire – have been rescued from going to waste.

Earlier this month, Chris alongside other volunteers from Roger Bullivant hand-pulled, topped and tailed around 1,000kg of surplus leeks at a Lincolnshire farm to help reduce waste, combat food poverty and support the agricultural sector.

These leeks were then distributed to frontline charities and local groups including school breakfast clubs, older people’s lunch clubs, homeless shelters, food banks, and community cafes – via Fareshare’s regional centres.

This project was the first of the year in conjunction with The Gleaning Network, which encourages people across the country to pick surplus crops to shrink farm-level food waste.

Chris said: “Last year, we were inundated with pumpkins as they are getting more popular and we had opportunities with around a dozen farms. While we managed to help most of them, the amount of waste was still staggering.

“All those who volunteer with us have been shocked by the quality and quantity of food available on the farms we have managed to engage with and the variety of reasons for this surplus.

“While food banks, community fridges, and soup kitchens are well-supported, awareness of food waste generally is still not widely appreciated. We are hoping to develop more opportunities with farms across the country, as well as encourage more volunteers to get involved.

“Another area we are keen to develop is around the education of growing, preparing, and cooking food as there is an over-reliance on takeaways and pre-prepared food. It is important for people to realise that the food we are picking is fresh, nutritious, and delicious. It isn’t waste – it is surplus and our aim is to stop it from becoming waste.”

Roger Bullivant volunteers thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially the freshly prepared leek and potato soup cooked on-site using some of the leeks gleaned on the day. The volunteers were encouraged to take some leeks home for their own use or to share with local charities. Lee Harvey, Procurement Engineer, took four bags of leeks to local charity Bank House in Swadlincote.

Chris Robinson, Engineering Director, said: “Many thanks to Chris for organising the leek glean. It was a fantastic opportunity to get to know colleagues better in a very different setting to the usual office or Teams environment, as well as doing something productive for a good cause. I would encourage everyone to consider getting involved with the next gleaning event Chris organises, no doubt not too far in the future as we head into the peak growing season.”

Anyone wanting to find out more information about Lions International’s gleaning project, or to get involved, should email chris.hibbert4@ntlworld.com or visit the Lions District 105CE website.

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