The booking desk at BOSS HQ was full of proud faces when we heard about this. International supermodel Edward Wilding, who was discovered by Boss in 2012 and has appeared in campaigns for Versace, Balmain, Hugo Boss and many more, has founded a charity called Action Hunger. Wythenshawe boy Ed co-founded the charity to help combat the rising number of homeless people in the UK by installing free vending machines in major cities, filled with unwanted food from supermarkets and local shops.
We had a chat with Edward to find out more about Action Hunger.
What inspired you to start Action Hunger?
We noticed that the problem with homelessness and the amount of people using food banks etc. was on the rise. Once we looked into this in more detail we realised that while there were many services available during working hours, there was nothing available out of hours for people sleeping rough.
How did you think of the idea of vending machines specifically?
We had seen that a small village in the Middle East had set up a refrigerator in the village centre where people with unwanted food could put their food in the fridge and those who may need food could help themselves to what had been left. So we tried to come up with a way to make this work in a big city and the best way was with a vending machine.
Why do you think the amount of homeless people has increased so much over the past few years in England?
I think the biggest problem we have is the price of living compared to the wages we receive. For a society to work the two must rise together, but what we have seen over the last 10/15 years is that wages aren’t rising at the same rates as the cost of living. The statistics say that the average person is only 2 paydays away from being homeless. This also is shown by the amount of people currently in debt.
How can people get involved/volunteer with the charity?
The best way is via the website www.actionhunger.org. We can find out where your closest Action Hunger vending machine is and then look at how you can volunteer, or we have a donations page too.
Are there any tips you have for people who are trying to reduce their food waste at home?
My biggest tip would be to only buy what you are going to eat – it’s very simple in theory but is a little trickier in practice. We have a fear of use by dates on produce now that is causing many things to be thrown away regardless of whether the item is still perfectly edible.
What has the response been to the vending machine idea so far?
The response has been incredible! We did not expect so much interest and for so many people to get in touch asking for a machine in their city or town. I think people are beginning to see how big the problem of homelessness is and are very keen to get involved and help in any way they can to combat it.
You have partnered with some big companies like Tesco and Waitrose who are donating their spare food.
We are working with supermarkets and also a charity called Fair Share who have the job of collecting all unwanted food from the large supermarkets across the UK and distributing it to food banks and charities like ourselves.
What plans do you have for the future of Action Hunger?
We plan on installing a machine in Manchester Arndale shopping centre in the coming months after we have monitored and collected the data from our Nottingham machine. Then the plan is to install a machine into every city that needs one. We have already had councils from across the UK and countries including USA, Canada, Russia and more asking for machines too.
The only goal we have is to help the people who are most vulnerable in our society and work with them to help get them back on their feet and back in to housing and employment.