World Food Day - how small business can help to end hunger
Tomorrow is World Food Day, a day to reflect on the problem of world hunger and make some concrete commitments to ending it forever.
However, meeting this responsibility can be especially challenging for small and medium businesses.
The most common question we receive from customers about our charity work is whether we donate our leftover food to homeless charities, but when you cook food fresh every day, this actually isn't possible. It isn't safe to transport and reheat the cooked dishes, and the amount of leftovers we have are too small to be worth a charity's effort to collect and distribute them on their own.
Every small or medium fresh food business faces this same challenge, but that's not a reason to give up! Here are three other ways you can make help to end hunger, in the UK and elsewhere.
Reduce food waste
One of the greatest causes of global hunger is the amount of food we throw away. A whopping one third of all food produced globally ends up in the bin or landfill - easily enough to end world hunger. Only ever ordering as much produce as you absolutely need, and only producing as many portions as you expect to serve, is your way of making a difference (and saving you money).
Check out the Sustainable Restaurant Associations's other top tips on reducing food waste.
Educate your customers
We don't often talk about it in these terms, but eating too much is itself a form of waste. Over the last few decades, our portion sizes have grown massively, and so have customer expectations about what is a normal amount to eat.
Helping customers understand the nutritional content of their food and what is a normal amount to eat in a day will help you serve smaller portions and instead focus even more on the quality of your food - making your customers even happier.
Use unusual ingredients
This is where we have to think long term. If everyone in the world is eating the same thing, it will cause huge problems in the long run to global food stocks. For example, as demand for quinoa has gone up, Peruvian farmers are producing less different types to focus on the varieties most popular in the West. The problem there is that it only takes a disease that the most popular varieties are vulnerable to, and the entire quinoa stock is wiped out, creating a famine.
We have the same problem globally with fish - just a few types of fish, like cod and salmon, are being overfished and now risk extinction.
Using more unusual ingredients and sustainable breeds of fish will increase demand for a wider range of ingredients, help make them more available to everyone, and protect our food stocks in the future. Visit the Marine Stewardship Council's website for advice on buying sustainable fish and choosing a supplier.
So that's our advice, but we want to hear from you. What else have you done in your business to help to reduce food waste? What have been the challenges, and what's been most successful? Let us know in the comments or stop by Twitter or LinkedIn to join the conversation.