Dad’s genius idea is turning 50,000 tonnes of food waste into meals every year

Five years ago, electrician Dom Warren was working long hours to put food on his family’s table.

But after dropping his two kids off at school, he realised that other children were going into class hungry and he told his wife, Alexandria, they had to find a way to feed them too.

Now, five years later, their incredible idea is changing the lives of countless struggling families.

The duo set up a charity that stops between 30,000 and 50,000 tonnes of food being wasted each year and turns it into meals instead.

Dom, 35, said: “The idea of parents not being able to afford breakfast for their children devastated me.

“I kept thinking about how I could help and money didn’t seem enough.

“Then I remembered how when my nan died, her cupboards were full of spare food that just went in the bin – and Dom’s Food Mission was born.”

At first, Dom and Alexandria, 33, called on friends and neighbours to drop surplus food to them at a car park on Saturday mornings, so they could boost the local food bank’s supplies.

The first collection in May 2015 saw the couple from Hastings, East Sussex, collect enough to feed 160 people.

Dom said: “Some weeks I sat in the car in the rain and no one showed up, but I had faith in our idea and Alexandria had faith in me. Five months later, M&S asked if we would take its leftover food.

“I realised companies were crying out for this sort of thing and we could feed thousands of people with their leftovers.”

Dom got himself a van, an army of volunteers and together they got other companies on board, set up supermarket drop-off points and created food hubs to get supplies to those in need, eventually reaching 4,000 people a month.

Dom said: “We feed everyone – women and children in hostels, refugees, schools, the elderly. Some of their stories keep me awake at night. We’re just a mum and dad from Hastings, but we are saving lives every day.”

Now their efforts have been honoured with a prestigious National Lottery Award and £3,000 in funding to help them continue their work.

Almost 5,000 people were nominated for a 2020 National Lottery Award – the annual search for the UK’s favourite National Lottery funded people and projects. It’s thanks to National Lottery players that £30million* is raised for good causes such as Dom’s every week.

The awards celebrate the inspirational individuals who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

Last October, Dom left his job with the electricity board to run the charity full-time and to roll out their National Lottery funded children’s cookery school, A Helping Hand, which teaches students to make meals using leftovers. During lockdown, Dom and his team of volunteers were needed more than ever before, delivering thousands of food parcels a month to vulnerable people.

Dom said: “Without those parcels, I’m not sure some people would have survived. Many of them have children so that idea hurts us, as parents ourselves.”

He added: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we were able to feed so many more people.

“Good food goes in the bin every day and it doesn’t have to. Our next step is to take this mission across the country – and even the world!”

Meet this year’s National Lottery Award winners at national-lottery.co.uk/news

*Based on figures from April 2019-March 2020. Players must be 16+.

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