At the end of the summer term 2015 colleagues from Warwick Accommodation and a large group of dedicated student volunteers worked together to collect and donate over 10 tonnes of food to people suffering in poverty in Coventry and Leamington.
As students left their halls of residences both on and off campus, the RAWKUS project volunteers went from residence to residence collecting the thousands of kilograms of food left behind and redistributing it to those in need, rather than see it go to waste.
Local charities including Coventry Cyrenians, Emmaus Coventry, Carriers of Hope Coventry, Lillington Youth Centre, Leamington Night Shelter and Fry Housing Trust were among the lucky recipients of over 420 crates filled with abandoned olive oils, cans, vegetables, pasta, rice and cereals.
Through the successful collaboration, the team were able to not only collect surplus amounts of food but also ensure that all was clear ready for conference delegates.
With many students now living in rented accommodation off-campus, the team have branched out this term and organised collections in Leamington Spa, with a further collection planned for September as postgraduate students move out. The project has featured in local press and has interest from student groups in other universities across the UK.
Speaking about the success of the project, volunteer Gareth Knott, an undergraduate at Warwick Medical School, said:
It's been amazing project and a big shout out to everyone involved. It is a fact of national shame that in the fifth wealthiest country in the world 1 million people need to use food banks. The RAWKUS Project, which in just two years had grown to nearly 50 times its original size, is a testament to how a few people getting organised can achieve so much.
David Chapman, Sustainability Champion, added:
Unfortunately much of the food left behind could not be saved, including fresh produce stored in fridges; frozen goods in freezers; jars that has been opened and food that was past its best before or use by date. The University will now send this remaining waste to create energy. It's estimated that approximately £3.5 million worth of food is wasted each year in halls, and we're looking at ways to support students to reduce this in future.
For tips and advice on how you can reduce food wastage, take a look at the Love Food Hate Waste website.
Update 20 August: An additional 65 crates of unopened food have since been collected and donated to the Coventry Cyrenians. The extra 1.5 tonnes brings the grand total donated to 12.2 tonnes.