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Caledonian Sleeper food helping dozens of hungry families in London, and firm eager to set up similar initiatives at Highland end of the route


By Philip Murray

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Unused food on southbound Caledonian Sleeper services is already helping dozens of families, and the operator is keen to set up something similar in the Highlands for its northbound trains.
Unused food on southbound Caledonian Sleeper services is already helping dozens of families, and the operator is keen to set up something similar in the Highlands for its northbound trains.

Hungry families who are struggling to eat in the cost-of-living crisis are being fed every week thanks to the Caledonian Sleeper.

The overnight passenger service, which runs from Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William to London, has been donating any surplus meals from its southbound services to a food rescue charity in the UK capital.

And the rail operator has thrown the gauntlet down to similar charities in the Highlands - urging them to come forward to try to set up similar donations from the Caledonian Sleeper’s northbound trains.

The train company said it has been working in London with food charity City Harvest, as it redistributes food to people facing food poverty across the city.

Any surplus cooked meals from the Caledonian Sleeper’s southbound service are donated to the food rescue charity, which are then taken to charities including foodbanks, refuges, shelters, soup kitchens and community groups to make sure that the food is accessible to the people who need it most.

And David Durance, catering and operations manager of Caledonian Sleeper, explained that the company is eager to set up something similar in Scotland.

”We’re now looking for a partner in Scotland and we’d urge you to come forward if you think you can help us divert left-over food from landfill on our north-bound service,” he said.

City Harvest in London has been distributing unused meals from the Caledonian Sleeper's southbound trains. Picture: David Parry.
City Harvest in London has been distributing unused meals from the Caledonian Sleeper's southbound trains. Picture: David Parry.

One charity which regularly receives donations from the Caledonian Sleeper’s southbound journeys is The Peel, a community charity in Clerkenwell, which is focussed on creating a connected community and tackling some of the challenges facing the local people including poverty and isolation.

Scarlett Gregory, Community Engagement and Partnerships Lead said: “We receive meals from Caledonian Sleeper once a week and the feedback has been great. Some members of the community drop in just to collect the meals and rely on them due to the rise in cost of living.

“The meals have been really popular with our Adult Members group – because they're pre-made meals you can easily reheat them – and it guarantees them to have at least one nutritious meal that day. The food we receive is supporting between 45-50 households per week and it’s fantastic to divert this from landfill to support those who are in need.”

Goldie Leoppky, Food Sourcing Manager from City Harvest added: “Working with companies such as Caledonian Sleeper, that are dedicated to reducing waste and making social impact is always a dream. Our latest People Report shows stark effects of food poverty on physical and mental health, now affecting one in four.

“The Caledonian Sleeper team is dedicated to ensuring no good food is wasted, working with us like clockwork to ensure it reaches those most in need.”

As well as tackling food poverty, City Harvest looks to reduce the impact which food waste has on the environment, and in four months Caledonian sleeper saved 15.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by donating its surplus food. It is estimated that every year the UK food industry wastes 9.5 million tonnes of food, which is associated with 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

As well as providing food, members of the Caledonian Sleeper team have volunteered at the charity’s warehouse supporting the packing and distribution of food.

The Sleeper’s David Durance added: “At Caledonian Sleeper we want to support the communities we operate in, and we are extremely pleased to be able to help to tackle food poverty in London. We know with the current cost-of-living crisis, charities focussed on addressing hunger are vital, and by working with City Harvest, which is at the frontline of tackling this, we know we are making a real positive difference to people’s lives and the environment.

“It has been fantastic to see our employees engage with the charity, and I am looking forward to growing this relationship and dozens continuing to support City Harvest as it provides such a vital service across the city.”

To find out more about overnight rail travel between London and Scotland, visit www.sleeper.scot.


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