Tackling food poverty by fighting waste.

Who are they?
FOODCYCLE.

Where are they?

Working nationally, with a base in London.

What do they do?
Collect surplus food and use it to create meals for disadvantaged people.

How big are they?
A huge volunteer base – around 1,000 people.

What did they receive?
Copies of Microsoft Office.

The outcome?
Each PC now running the same, up-to-date software.

A visit to Foodcycle’s website is recommended for those seeking a fine example of how a self-confident small charity can put its messages across with style. Founded in 2008 by Kelvin Cheung, who had seen the success of a similar American project, Foodcycle does something that looks very straightforward on paper – it takes surplus ingredients from a variety of retailers and uses them to create nutritious meals for those in the community who don’t have access to healthy food.

It’s a simple idea – but of course making it happen is another matter. For a start, there’s the scale of the operation. “We have a thousand-odd volunteers,” explains Kelvin. “Essentially we’re a large logistics organisation.” These volunteers work across the UK in ‘hubs’, with a small team co-ordinating head office functions and providing support from offices in Central London.


This logistics focus, coupled with the widely-spread nature of the volunteer teams, means that Kelvin and his team are extremely comfortable with the concept of putting IT at the heart of their operation – computer systems are seen very much as a core investment, not a cost. With donations of Microsoft Office arranged via CTX, the charity’s PCs are up-to-date with the latest versions of this software suite.

“We use it for anything and everything,” Kelvin says, working through a familiar list from financial plans to general correspondence, before elaborating on what CTX software donations mean to a small charity. “We have a big Apple Macintosh for design work, but aside from that we use donated PCs. But even if you do buy new, computers are now relatively quite cheap– you can get a laptop for three hundred pounds. Software is expensive, however, and if we didn’t have that then what would we do? This is the good thing about CTX – a lot of software licenses are available, so we can get the same up-to-date versions running on each computer,” he says.

Having heard about CTX via a colleague at another not-for-profit organisation, Kelvin describes the process of application and ordering as very straightforward, and would urge other charities to take advantage of the opportunity. So what would be the message that he’d give them about CTX?

He thinks for a moment. “Something like… ‘everybody needs IT software to run – and CTX is where you can get it for free!”
 
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