Coronavirus closures leaving service kitchens full of food

As supermarkets struggle to fulfil demand, calls for unwanted food to be redistributed.

As people prepare to stay at home for weeks on end, many businesses are feeling the full force of the Covid-19 pandemic as they close their doors to the public for the foreseeable future.

Establishments such as hotels and restaurants will see their fully stocked kitchens potentially going to waste while supermarket shelves are being laid bare on a daily basis.

This irony is not lost on, a UK commercial waste collection company, who feel that these hospitality kitchens may be an untapped resource in our time of need, and calls for the sensible redistribution of unwanted food.

“Supermarket shelves are being ransacked everyday as people frantically stockpile, meanwhile there’s plenty of food sitting in unused kitchens,” says company spokesperson Mark Hall.

“Surely hospitality businesses need to be making this food available to the public, otherwise much of it will go out of date and end up in the bin, which would be such a waste.”

Checking out, not chucking out

Restaurants, hotels and cafes are now switching their food service to takeaway status, but business is set for a nose-dive.

Many businesses pride themselves on serving fresh foods, but with no one to eat them a huge amount of food looks like it will definitely be going to waste.

Felicia is a chef from a top hotel, and she worries about the amount of food left behind as her employers ended trade this week. “As we hung up our aprons at the end of the last shift, I left knowing that all of our freezers had been recently completely filled, and that the fridge was rammed with fresh ingredients.”

“A few of us took bits home, but I know that when I go back, I’ll have to throw a disgusting amount of food away. It’s just not right.”

The hospitality sector already produces 920,000 tonnes of waste a year in the UK (that’s enough for 1.2bn meals – Source: WRAP), and this number looks likely to increase due to the waste that will be created by so much uneaten food during this outbreak.

“All of this comes at a time where fights in supermarket aisles become a daily occurrence, as people scrap over the last precious tins of tomatoes and fresh loaves of bread, which goes in the waste collection bin, blissfully unaware that the closed-down businesses they drove past on the way may have everything they were looking for in their kitchens and stockrooms”, says company spokesperson Mark Hall.

“There’s a large amount of food sitting around not being eaten which is crazy in this time of need, so why shouldn’t people be able to get their hands on it before it perishes?”

Raiding the cupboards

Business Waste conducted an online questionnaire to find out what the public thinks would be the right thing to do with this hidden supply of food. The results ranged from practical, to practically ridiculous.

• Amanda, Falmouth: “It would be such a shame to see all this perfectly good food going to waste. I think they should be opening their doors to the most vulnerable like the elderly and the disabled and let them come in and take the food. They’re the ones missing out while everyone else is playing supermarket sweep.”
• Ethan, Hastings: “Why are we trying to take away from businesses here? They should be shoving it all into freezers, so they have stock when this pandemic is over, it’s not our right to be claiming dibs on whatever they’ve got.”
• Tony, Chester: “First come, first serve. That’s the motto I live by. First one there gets dibs on the goods. I’m hoping for a few months’ worth of free Nando’s out of this.”
• Tanya, Hull: “Why can’t they arrange a soup-kitchen kind of set up for the homeless. They rely on donations for food, and people are hardly going to be donating while they’re selfishly stockpiling are they? It makes the most sense to me.”
• Imran, Aberystwyth: “The government needs to get involved here. Maybe put all the food into a giant central reserve, and then they can dish it out equally to every person in the country like wartime rations.”’s Mark Hall: “We still have time to make use of this food, we just need business owners to come forward and help out in our time of need.”

“Food is meant to be eaten, not thrown away, the amount of perfectly good food we are collecting at the moment is utterly sickening.”

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