Working together to tackle food waste and food inequalities across the borough

Aim of the Plan

Sustainable Merton has been commissioned to lead the development of Merton's Food Poverty Action Plan which seeks to:

  • Achieve a consistent, coordinated and strategic partnership approach to tackle people’s inability to afford, or to have access to, quality food for a healthy diet.

  • Make better use of surplus food and reduce food waste in the borough.

  • Strengthen, support and raise awareness of the strong active community and voluntary sector in Merton working to tackle food poverty locally.

Our research has unearthed several food initiatives in the borough that already offer vital support to combat food poverty. Many of these rely heavily on help from volunteers.


It has  also highlighted avenues where these projects could benefit from closer partnerships to achieve even more successful outcomes. We hope to engage organisations and residents further, through a drive to divert good food that is currently wasted, back into the community and to those who may need it.”


Michelle Kolattek - Community Gardening Coordinator

27% of those employed living in the east of the borough earn under £20,000. 

Across Merton, there are significant social and health inequalities, especially between the east and west of the Borough.


Families and children in Merton are going to bed hungry each night.


The east of Merton is more likely to face higher levels of unemployment, fuel poverty, premature mortality, poor access to healthy food and physical activity, as well as food poverty itself. 

There is an abundance of surplus food that could be put to better use across Merton, and residents, business and organisations can all do their bit to redistribute this food to tackle food poverty.

Income Deprivation Affecting Children by Merton Ward, 2015.

Levels of need for food assistance in Merton are rising. 

Between 2015-2017, an increase of 33% in residents accessing foodbanks.

78% of users live in the east of the borough.

Where are we now?

Two successful consultation workshops run by Sustainable Merton in 2017 have informed the development of Merton's Food Poverty Action plan. We were able to:


  • Analyse and better understand factors affecting food poverty

  • Map the needs of residents in the borough and the services currently on offer.

  • Connect a range of partner organisations to explore solutions

  • Engage local stakeholders as well as FareShare, Mayor’s Fund for London, Olio and Sustain to give their input and share experiences.

Established in June 2018, Sustainable Merton is now leading Merton's Food Poverty Operational Group to coordinate the implementation of the Action Plan with key partners.


The aim of this work is to develop and improve links between food providers and beneficiaries, make better use of surplus food, help to reduce food waste and increase volunteering in food poverty related groups.

The sheer volume of groups and teams working within the area of Food Poverty Action was something of a surprise (who knew so many people cared?!); from the London Borough of Merton to Wimbledon Food Bank and Merton Voluntary Service Council (to name a few!), plus Sustainable Merton chairing the whole thing."


Paula - Community Champion


make a difference.

Be part of the food sharing revolution!

Sustainable Merton is supporting OLIO – the free food sharing app, on its mission to stop good food from going to waste!

OLIO connects people with their neighbours and local shops so that surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away. 

“We at OLIO can’t wait to expand our app within X, an area with such a passion for food waste reduction already established. With Merton’s dynamic community and existing food waste efforts, it feels a perfect match for OLIO”


Tessa Cook, Co-Founder, OLIO

Our Community Champion Alice has signed up to the app. Find out how she is getting on!

Donate surplus food to those in need


Foodbanks provide a vital service to those experiencing hunger and poverty. 


Wimbledon Foodbank, supported by The Trussell Trust, works hard to provide three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people who are referred to the service in crisis. 

To prevent good food from going to waste, individuals, businesses, supermarkets, local organisations, schools and churches in Merton can all make donations.

Merton Faith in Action also accepts donations of fresh, in-date food for breakfasts and lunches.

Photo: Wimbledon Guardian

Grow, Cook, Eat.


May Project Garden's 'Grow, Cook, Eat' programme works with communities experiencing poor diets and food poverty to make healthy living affordable and accessible through food growing and cooking sessions. 

The sessions use food surplus collected from local businesses to reduce food waste and encourage community solutions to economic hardship. The cooking activity leaders have come through this programme, having demonstrated a passion and skill for cooking and undertaken training to deliver sessions as part of the May Project Gardens team.

Our Food Poverty Action Plan Project Coordinator attended a 'Come We Grow' education event held at Mitcham Library as part of this programme - find out more about the event here.



FareShare redistributes fresh, in date and good to eat surplus food from the food industry to charities that turn it into meals, preventing it from go to waste.

FareShare London delivers this surplus food to 224 charities and community groups across the capital, including homeless hostels, childrens breakfast clubs, lunch clubs for older people, domestic violence refuges and community cafés. Share your food through food-sharing app 


Individuals using the OLIO app can also choose to make a donation to FareShare. 


Businesses with good quality surplus food should contact FareShare to redirect this to the people who need it most.

Find out more and start giving today

Inspire Change

Are you passionate about valuing food, reducing food waste and tackling food poverty? 


Join our team of Community Champions to support the important and exciting work happening across the borough around this issue.


USEful links

  • Healthy Start - Healthy Start provides free vouchers for food including milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, infant formula and vitamins to applicants who qualify.

  • Chartwells - support for nutritious school meals

More on food



As part of Merton's Food Poverty Action Plan, Sustainable Merton aims to increase the use of growing spaces to connect communities and provide access to healthy, sustainable food.

Partner Project



Abundance Wimbledon brings people together to pick surplus fruit growing in gardens and public spaces in the Wimbledon area, and across Merton.

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Sustainable Merton

Registered Charity No. 1156639

Call us:

020 3417 0476

Find us: 

Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, London SM4 5JD

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