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Celebrating Young People Fighting Food Waste

June 2020 is the first year of the City Harvest Iris Goldsmith Awards, celebrating young people fighting food waste. The award is in memory of Iris, who at age 15 volunteered at City Harvest and understood the importance of protecting the planet. Iris was a bright light in the world who recognised first-hand the enormous impact that receiving nutritious rescued food had on people’s lives.

Food waste is a leading contributor to climate change.

1/3 of all food produced is wasted – yet 820 million people are hungry.

City Harvest believes young people are the key to raising awareness of this issue to promote a sustainable future. The City Harvest Iris Goldsmith Award celebrates young local heroes who are taking action and protecting the planet.

Award Categories
    • Champion for Change – A problem-solver, enthusiastically identifying solutions for tackling food waste, taking the initiative in their home, school or community, devising a method for change and putting innovation into practice.
    • Valiant Volunteer – A dedicated volunteer who has given up their time and/or motivated others to help out at either a food rescue charity or a community organisation using surplus food to feed those in need.
    • Zero Waste Wordsmith – A creative communicator committed to spreading the word around food waste – raising awareness by running events at school, creating videos or blogs, speaking in assemblies, writing articles or something else that inspires people to adopt environmentally friendly practices concerning food.

London schools were invited to submit projects to show their efforts in the plight of food waste. We wanted to acknowledge and engage young people, giving them a platform to start their journey toward change.


Elise Saidenberg – 14 – St Paul’s School for Girls

I was inspired to start working with City Harvest after spending time volunteering with an independent local political party. I really enjoyed being able to do research to serve a community and cause, so I am very happy that there was an opportunity to do research for City Harvest, especially after learning more about food waste and hunger and the work City Harvest does. I hope to continue with the work I have been doing with City Harvest, raise awareness about food insecurity and encourage people to get involved in food rescue.

Oliver Barnard – 13 – Grey Court School

Chutney Making project with a glut of seasonal vegetables from the school allotment. Learned about pickling to preserve food and avoid waste.

Oliver is dedicated to increasing awareness amongst his peers and taking direct action to address food waste, food poverty and climate change by regularly attending the Grey Court Community School Allotment because it gives him the opportunity to get involved with an initiative he is passionate about, which nurtures the outdoor environment.

Why did you choose the category you chose/ what inspired your project?

I chose this category because it related to the chutney making project I was working on and being sustainable.

What do you hope to do after this – do you hope to do other projects?

I intend to develop the chutney making project further by thinking of other recipies and ingredients that can be used to avoid waste. I also want to build on the skills I have developed in the past in organsing, setting up and running a street stall and selling to members of the public and pass these skills onto younger students joinging grey court

Who do you look up to/ see as a positive role model?

Greta Thunberg


Mikal Gebreamlak – 15 – St Paul’s School for Girls

Why did you choose the category you chose/ what inspired you?

The Valiant Volunteer section of the City Harvest Iris Goldsmith Award was especially compelling. I have always been interested and invested in learning techniques to prevent food waste and finding time to volunteer with charities that find compatible ways to help others who go without. For example, I volunteer at Mary’s Meals which is a charity that focuses on bringing free school meals to those that are chronically hungry through fundraising and donations. Providing this basic necessity to school children is important for concentration, learning and attention span in school and so this project helps to create a safe space for these children where they can focus on their education. In my opinion tackling food waste is imperative as it benefits the environment and our health as well as helping others in need.

What do you hope to do after this – do you hope to do other projects?

Later this summer, I hope to get involved in an Afro-Caribbean local community initiative focused on helping the elderly by providing home cooked meals and a safe space. All the food has been acquired through fundraising or donations and I hope to volunteer by helping with distributing the food, fundraising projects and getting to know those that come to the shelter. Personally, I think that this scheme is very worthwhile as it is both incredibly meaningful and ecologically considerate. I am also excited as, having grown up in a black family, this opportunity allows me to give back to a community that I really appreciate.

Who do you look up to/ see as a positive role model?

I am originally from East Africa and when I first visited my grandparent’s village, I was struck by the sense of society working together to always value and never waste what they had. I think that communities dedicated to living sustainably are very inspiring (one such example that I especially like is Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka) as the emphasis on volunteering and unity is very moving. This helps preserve nature and encourages people to consider everyone around them in a more selfless manner including engaging in charitable acts and helping those who are disadvantaged. Of course, we cannot all expect to eradicate our carbon footprint, but their dedication is admirable and always energizes me to try and find a new opportunity to give back to my community.


Henry Ferrabee – 17 – St. Pauls School

Why did you choose the category you chose/ what inspired your project?

This year was the first year I became involved with environmentalism more formally, joining my school’s Pupil Environment committee. Yet, certain parts of environmentalism have always been central in my mind – with food waste being the primary of that. This is because I see food waste as one of the more attainable environmental fixes that I can personally aide.

James Claydon and I, as co-founders of UseTheThird, have sought to use the simplistic guidance of Extend, Preserve, Adapt to make it an attainable fix for everyone, and hope to use it to cut the difficult first stage of involvement.

What do you hope to do after this – do you hope to do other projects?

I see environmentalism as a series of steps, to get to the next step of environmentalism you have to have reached the previous step. Personally, I see food waste as the next natural step after recycling that has largely been successful at our school. Therefore, if we are successful in producing a sizeable change in food waste, then I see the other environmentalist steps in the future.

Who do you look up to/ see as a positive role model?

I was asked this in a PEC interview as well and I would actually say that although there are wonderful role models out there such as Greta Thunberg and others, I see the native peoples in my home country of Canada as my true heroes. I say this because they are responsible consumers of the resources around them and moreover their way of life is more in tandem with nature than ours will ever be. I find the growing ‘westernisation’ of their population upsetting as I think they are people that we can all truly look up to.

Jack Harries Congratulates Iris Award Winners

If your school would like to take part in next year’s awards, please click the link below to send us your contact details.