Emirates Stadium in London hosts thousands of fans each year for football matches and other major events, including the home games for Arsenal F.C. of the English Premier League. Delaware North, as the exclusive food and beverage provider at the venue, is responsible for feeding the nearly 60,000 spectators that pack England’s third-largest football stadium.
Taalib Adanse has been Delaware North’s sous chef at the stadium’s Diamond Club since March 2016 and has taken on the task of trying to reduce the amount of food waste leftover on event days. Adanse recently wrote a case study for the Sustainable Restaurant Association, a leading sustainability-focused organization in the United Kingdom.
“There had to be a way of getting food that wasn’t being eaten on match days to people who needed it,” Adanse wrote. “It doesn’t seem right that there are people going hungry on our doorstep, while we were throwing away perfectly good food.”
Taalib enlisted the help of Plan Zheroes, an organization that helps match food donors with the proper food banks and other charities, and was able to implement a program that efficiently collects, documents and readies leftover food at the stadium for pickup by local charities.
Since starting the program, Adanse and the team at Emirates Stadium have already seen positive results.
“So far, we have helped several local charities feed more than 1,500 people, including the homeless, vulnerable children and the elderly,” Adanse said. “The feedback has been really positive — from staff here and of course from the local charities that we are supporting.
For me personally, it is an incredibly positive thing. To be able to give something back to the local area in this way: It makes me feel proud to work for such a community-focused employer.”
After a one-year trial of the partnership with Plan Zheroes, Adanse will be looking to expand on the program.
“When we finish the pilot at the end of this season we’re going to look at rolling it out across all our stadiums in the U.K. My own goal is to see this as a model for all football clubs to follow. Imagine the impact if all 92 football clubs redistributed their surplus food.”