Case Studies

MOO Food – Achieving Heath and Environment benefits through community-level social mobilisation

Tags: Health and Environment

MOO Food is a small organisation based in Muir of Ord, a small village in the Scottish Highlands. It aims to promote environmental sustainability and build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge, and confidence. It does so by organising events and activities throughout the year that give the people of the community, irrespective of their background, access to good, nutritional, and chemical-free food, helping them to also understand the importance of using local produce to reduce food waste and their carbon footprint. Not only does MOO Food work for the community, but the community works with MOO Food, too. As Emma Whitham, MOO Food’s Founder stressed, ‘MOO Food is now completely community-led by a board of Trustees, a cohort of volunteers and three members of part-time staff’. One of the key projects that MOO Food runs is called Growing Our Future, which saw the instalment of growing boxes in key spots around the village, as well as the opening of a Community Orchard. Both initiatives enable the people of the community to grow and take any food they need for free. In terms of impact, Whitham calculates that the project has saved a total of 162t CO2 e to date, with an estimated lifetime saving of 487t CO2 e. MOO Food also works with local schools and partners with the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver a Back to Work programme and with NHS Scotland to deliver a green therapy programme to help people who are suffering from mild to moderate mental illness. In addition to that, it runs movie screenings, cooking workshops, and a community fridge that was installed in the main square of the village where people can take (or leave) any food they need (or that they do not need anymore). In the month of August, 2020 alone, this helped save 396 kgs of waste, a 560 percent increase compared to the same month in 2019. The use of the community fridge seems to have increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows the crucial role MOO Food has been playing in the recovery of the village. This has inspired others to act and start similar projects. Someone from as far as Uganda got in touch with MOO Food to help them plant an orchard in their country and MOO Food continues to support communities across Scotland to develop food-sharing platforms. An example is the Casserole Club Project, which matches cooks with diners so that those who can easily make one extra portion of a hot meal can share it with someone in the village that would benefit not only from the food but also from the social interaction. At the moment, MOO Food is working on a new project called Scan not Scraps, which is funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and which aims to further reduce the carbon footprint of the community by 365tCO2 e.

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