Volunteers are sweeping Islington supermarkets for surplus food and dishing it up

Volunteers from left are Maria Giorda and Yining Su

Volunteers from left are Maria Giorda and Yining Su - Credit: Archant

Ever wondered what happens to food unfit for sale at supermarkets? You’ll be pleased to hear there’s a team at hand ensuring it doesn’t get binned.

Volunteers from left are Maria Giorda and Yining Su

Volunteers from left are Maria Giorda and Yining Su - Credit: Archant

Every week hundreds of volunteers from Islington charity FoodCycle tour the branches of Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Tesco filling a trolley with goods.

There’s nothing wrong with the food. It’s always in date and the reasons it’s not on the shelves can range from it being a bit squashed to the packaging being dented to the store ordering too much of it.

The volunteers will then return to their hub and lay out all they’ve gathered, before working out how they can whip it into a three-course meal.

“There’s an element of Ready, Steady, Cook to it,” said a spokeswoman for the charity, who on Saturday celebrated seven years of cooking meals for people with HIV at The Food Chain charity in Grays Inn Road. “You have no idea what you will pick up and do sometimes wonder, ‘what am I going to do with 6,000 beetroots?’.”

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The charity started out as a project run by students of London School of Economics (LSE) and University College London and now has 29 branches across the country, with 2,600 volunteers in London alone.

In the capital, there are three times more people living with HIV than the UK average and in Islington alone there are 1,200.

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The sessions offer a chance to socialise, and in many cases, a vital nutritious meal.

Anna Sheinman has been coordinator of the FoodCycle LSE hub for three years, cooking for people with HIV every week.

She told the Gazette: “There’s one volunteer who is also a client.

“He’s been living in a hostel for many years. I always offer him the leftovers from the end of the sessions but he says he can’t take it because anything he puts in a fridge at the hostel will get stolen by the crack addicts.

“He eats two microwave meals from Iceland every day except for on Sundays. That is why I do this. For him.”

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