By Sophie Elisabeth
Back in December, Jo wrote an insightful article all about our local food banks and what we can do to help them. She brought to our attention that more people than we might think struggle to make ends meet when it comes to putting food on the table. In 2013-14, the number of people who relied on food banks in the UK tripled to a staggering 913, 138 people (The Trussell Trust, 2013-14), and over 330,000 of these people were children.
Last year alone, FareShare (the UK's leading food redistribution charity) reported that over 5.8 million people in the UK live in 'deep poverty,' making it hard for them to afford every day essentials, including food. The also noted, that at the same time, 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food and drink industry. What's more, 10% of this is surplus and is fit for consumption, enough food for 800 million meals (FareShare, 2014). The figures speak for themselves. Which is what makes the topic of my first Community article so amazing - Bounceback Food, Manchester.
Bounceback Food is a social enterprise that sells a range of healthy, staple food on a 'one for you, one for society' basis. Every time you buy a product retailed by Bounceback Food, another one is donated to your nearest food bank or community project, via FareShare and the Trussell Trust. Bounceback were set up to address the staggering imbalance of food poverty and food waste in the UK, and work towards the core values of Respect, Enterprise and Teamwork to achieve their ultimate mission - to end food poverty in the UK.
OK - introduction over. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Bounceback is run by Duncan Swainsbury, who commits an awful lot of his spare time to the wonderful cause. I first met him manning his stall at Altrincham Market a couple of months ago, and he told me all about Bounceback, its principles, inspiration and plans for the future.
Whilst at school, Duncan volunteered in a food bank on a People to People Leadership program hosted by Stanford University. Since moving to Manchester in September 2014, he has been working with FareShare Greater Manchester on the idea and execution of Bounceback Food. During his time working in a food bank, Duncan noticed something wasn't quite right. Although the work that FareShare do is wonderful at its core and is basically incomparable to any other organisation in the UK, it can only dish out the waste food it receives from the Food & Drink Industry. Sometimes, these food donations are less than adequate, meaning many homeless people are left without the basic nutrition they so often need to survive. He told me about how on one occasion, the only thing they had to hand out to those in need were trays of cupcakes donated by Tesco - hardly a sensible option for a homeless person, if this is to be the only piece of food they eat that day.
So, with this in mind - Duncan set up Bounceback. They sell only healthy, nutritious, cost
effective staple foods with a good shelf life. Every product they retail is sold on a 'One for
You, One for Society' basis - which means each time you purchase a product from them,
they donate one of their healthy, staple foods to your local food bank! An amazingly simple
concept, which helps boost the nutritious options on offer at food banks, helping to address
the staggering imbalance of food poverty and food waste in the UK. Their 3 core values are:
• Respect - Bounceback only sell and donate high quality products that food banks need.
• Enterprise - They turn problems into opportunities.
• Teamwork - Bounceback work with a range of organisations who help them achieve their mission.
As readers of Taste Today, I know you will be interesting in finding out what their full product range includes. All food Bounceback sell is organic and of the very highest quality. They believe that you should only donate in-date food that you would be willing to eat yourself to a food bank. The range of Suma branded products they stock is listed below:
• Organic Wholewheat Pasta 500g (Fusilli, Penne & Spaghetti)
• Organic White Pasta 500g (Fusilli, Penne & Spaghetti)
• Organic Tinned Food 400g (Chopped Tomatoes, Peeled Tomatoes, Baked Beans, Kidney Beans and Chick Peas)
• Organic Long Grain Rice 500g
Utterly impressed by Duncan, his work, the concept and the gorgeous product range, I was keen to share his story and also get involved to assist in any way that I could. So, Duncan invited me to participate in their 'Staple Food Challenge' - an opportunity for their customers, aspiring chefs and influential food writers across the country to guest blog on thier website and cook a recipe using a product of their choice from the Bounceback range. Being a pasta-lover I decided to focus on a simple, nutritious dish and so I purchased the Organic, Wholewheat Fusilli (which meant I also made a donation) and got to work right away to create something tasty, nutritious, wholesome and easy to put together. I must say, this pasta is excellent in quality, cooks really well and has a slightly nutty flavour like wholewheat pasta should. I have since purchased their chickpeas which are also a pleasure to cook with.
Duncan and his team have now sold over 500 products from their range, which means over 500 hundred staple food donations have been made to food banks in need across the UK (from Chorlton, to Brighton!)
If you want to support the people in need of quality, staple foods across our nation, you can purchase Bounceback Foods for delivery via an order form on their website, which can be found here. Or, you could pop down to Altrincham Market and meet the man himself, who is usually there on a Saturday from 10-5pm.
We wish Duncan and Bounceback Food all the very best for the future, and we look forward to trying some of the other 'Staple Food Challenge' recipes to come. Keep up the good work, Duncan!
Bacon, Pea and Spinach Pesto Pasta (Sophie's Staple Food Challenge!)
Serves 4, takes about 25 minutes to prepare and cook
For the pesto:
• 100g pine nuts
• 200ml olive oil
• Big handful of fresh basil (stalks included)
• 2 big cloves of garlic
• Juice of 2 lemons
• A pinch of sea salt
For the pasta:
• 4-5 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
• 300g Organic Fusilli wholewheat pasta from Bounceback
• 300g frozen petit pois
• 200g bag of baby spinach, washed
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Shavings of Pecorino cheese, to serve
1. Heat a tiny bit of the olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the bacon pieces until slightly
crispy. Once cooked, set aside on some kitchen paper to soak up any excess fat.
2. Roughly tear all the basil including the stems, and peel the garlic. Place them in the food processor along with the fresh lemon juice, pine nuts, olive oil and sea salt. Blend this mixture until smooth and creamy, adjusting the seasoning to your taste. Set this aside in the fridge while you make the pasta. (Tip: if you don’t use all the pesto in this serving, it will keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
3.Place the pasta into a saucepan with boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas into the same pan and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and the peas, then return them back into the saucepan pesto, spinach and bacon.
4.Gently cook on a low heat until the pesto is warm and the spinach has wilted. Serve in warm bowls and using a peeler, shave a generous helping of the creamy Pecorino cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. I also served with some garlic bread.