A Manchester charity is feeding 900 university students locally-sourced sustainable food

A Manchester charity is helping to feed 900 university students across the city as part of a project to encourage people to eat more locally-sourced sustainable food

Groundwork Greater Manchester is celebrating after receiving funding from Virgin Media O2 to run a project to encourage young people across the city to eat more sustainably sourced food as part of positive action on climate change.

Groundwork Greater Manchester’s ‘Foodwave Surge’ project – which young climate activists lead – aims to reduce the carbon footprint of food, where food items can travel up to thousands of miles before being prepared and consumed.

As part of the initiative, more than 800 new and returning university students have been treated to free, homecooked meals and free heritage recipe books to encourage them to make sustainable meals with locally grown ingredients. 

Later this week, there will be free fruit and vegetables – surplus produce sourced through Manchester Urban Diggers – for up to 100 students distributed through the MetMUnch Café based on Oxford Road.

The initiative is being held to mark ‘Great Big Green Week’ (18-26 September). The Climate Coalition is spearheading to highlight action being taken to respond to the climate crisis and the steps people can take to reduce their impact on the planet.

“Since Covid 19 and its impact on the student population over the past two years, we have wanted to make 2021 memorable for returning students and freshers,” said John Swallow of Groundwork Greater Manchester. “The grant is brilliant as it gives us a chance to cook, provide online demonstrations and promote really health, tasty and locally sourced food.”

Following an application process, Groundwork Greater Manchester received a grant from Virgin Media O2’s Together Fund, which provides funding for environmental projects nationwide that encourage young people and communities to get involved in conversations and positive action on climate change.

“We’re proud to support and fund Groundwork Greater Manchester’s event for Great Big Green Week,” Tracey Herald, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Virgin Media O2, “which is investing in and supporting young climate leaders to bring forward their ideas and solutions to the threats posed by climate change. We know that young people are increasingly worried about the impacts of our changing climate, and we want to give them a platform and a voice to campaign on the issue and inspire others in their communities to take action, too.

“Virgin Media O2 is already taking action to respond to the climate emergency by setting a goal to become net zero in our operations by the end of 2025, and we’re committed to helping our customers live more sustainable lives through technology and innovation.”

It comes ahead of the UN Climate Summit, COP26, taking place in Glasgow in November and will bring together world leaders and activists to tackle climate change.

“Young people have the most to lose from the impacts of climate change,” said Ben Margolis, Interim Director from The Climate Coalition. “We are delighted that this support enables more inspiring young people to come together and unite in the urgent fight against climate change. 

“Great Big Green Week takes place in the run-up to COP26, the international climate summit hosted in Glasgow in November. The week’s activities will demonstrate that people from all walks of life across the UK care about climate change and want to see politicians take action at COP26 to limit its worst effects.”    


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