Every important mission needs its superheroes and, for Waste less, Save more, it’s the Food Saver Champions.
The team of eight was selected by South Derbyshire District Council to build on the success of the Sainsbury’s campaign and help spread the food waste message.
With the aim of cutting food waste in Swadlincote by 50 per cent and cutting household bills by an average of £350 a year by the end of 2016, they have been tasked with visiting 18,000 households in the area to share food-saving tips and encourage a food-sharing community.
As the ‘faces’ of the campaign, the eight - Vanessa Odell, Sarah Walton, Vince Chambers, Toni McNamara, Joanne Plater, Catherine Darragh, Paula Richards and Janice Lambert - have been building relationships with people and visiting local business and schools.
They are tasked with helping people keep food diaries, offering advice on portion measurement, sharing ideas for rustling up delicious meals from leftovers and promoting the food-sharing OLIO app.
Travelling in their bespoke ‘WLSM on the go’ van, a retro orange van nicknamed ‘Gina’, they also appear at the Swadlincote farmers’ market, held on the last Thursday of the month at The Delph Market Square.
The team has also organised events including picnics and street parties to share tips and recipes and regularly monitors how the Waste less, Save more message is spreading in Swadlincote.
Based on door knocking between May and July, they found that half of residents had heard of the campaign.
While it’s not possible at this stage to know to what extent behaviour has changed as a result of advice from the Champions, team leader Vanessa Odell has found the community very receptive to the food waste message.
“People have been really receptive and more honest than I thought they would be about wasting food and wanting help,” she said. “This is exactly what we are here for.”
She added: “We’ve had such positive feedback from the local residents. When they see that there’s a dedicated team here to help them, I think it helps acknowledge the scale of the issue.
“Whether visiting people at home, our showcasing some Waste less, Save more themed recipes at public events, there’s always a good reception. One person said that we’ve ‘created a ripple that is turning into a wave’, which was really nice feedback!”