Every day food goes to waste in superstores and fast food restaurants, yet people go hungry. In Hastings Dom’s Food Mission matches surplus food to hungry mouths. Ben Bruges finds out more. 

Dom Warren, founder of Dom’s Food Mission, is indeed on a mission: “We get so much stuff, we get more than enough to share, so we feed everyone we can – children, families, single mums, safe houses, the lot. We feed the homeless twice a week face to face: hot food, tons of stuff, and it’s a lovely feeling.”

Accepting the ‘Inspiration Award
PICTURE: Dominic Döring

It started when a trip to the dentist meant Dom, a full-time electrician, had a rare chance to drop his kids off at school. He realised that children were coming to school hungry, he further realised that he had to do something about it, scribbled down a plan, set up a Facebook page, got people to donate their surplus food and Dom’s Food Mission was born. That was May 2015. Since then he, his wife and a growing team of volunteers have been at it without break: “We collect food and feed people 365. There’s no closing down. There’s no time off. We’ve done this four years straight.”

Feeding people not landfill
Running Dom’s Food Mission on top of a full-time job is undoubtedly a challenge: “There’s plenty of times I could’ve thrown the towel in. But we don’t stop. When you see children right in front of you that are struggling, something’s got to be done. The waste has got to leave the store, it’s got to go somewhere. I’d rather feed people than landfill.”

Hunger shames Hastings as it does the UK. UNICEF report that 10% of British children live in households affected by severe food insecurity and say that the UK is one of the worst performing nations in Europe. The Trussell Trust, the UK-wide foodbank network, saw a 20% rise in demand for emergency food parcels for children last summer.  

Not all of us get up and do anything about it, though, so why Dom? He shrugs off the question: “We’re just people from Hastings. I’m not famous. I’m not well off. I work for the electricity board, and I do my bit for my town.”

This modesty runs to regret over the name. He chose it because it was his personal mission to feed the children, but says: “It’s not about me, it’s about helping people – but my wife says we can’t change the name now because it’s a brand, people know the name, it’s winning awards.” 

Recently they won an ‘Inspiration Award’ from the Guild of Food Writers for their ‘Helping Hands’ projects where they teach school children how to wash, cook and prepare surplus and donated food. Dom’s Food Mission then feeds the homeless with meals the children have made.

Support always welcome
They always need volunteers. There’s a form on their website, and they do all the relevant security checks. “We try and do everything the right way. And we show people how easy it is to help others.” Dom’s passion is infectious: “When you see them face to face and they’re queuing up and they haven’t got anywhere to sleep, it’s heartbreaking, it’s not nice. This isn’t the world I want my children to grow up in. No one should be sleeping on the floor. No one. Let alone going hungry. Everyone has the right to eat.”

And, of course, they always welcome money or food donations. There are drop-off points: Morrisons in town, Zeus Gym and the Conqueror’s March pub. “It’s available all of the time. Anyone can decide ‘I’m going to put some pasta or a few tins or some UHT milk in there for them guys’.” 

And the future? Dom talks about being asked to go national: “We get phone calls from all over the country and other countries saying, ‘Can you come and help us out here?’” He would be open to developing it further, but right now there are mouths to feed: “I wish one day I’d wake up and someone said we don’t need Dom’s Food Mission any more, and I could say, thank God for that, job done.”

For more information visit: www.domsfoodmission.com

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