Summit Registration

Mary McGrath

The power of communities: Bringing people together and food fighting poverty

  • Food Poverty: What is it and how big is the problem?
  • Wealth inequality: How it’s perpetuating the food poverty problem
  • The power of building communities around food
  • The role manufactures and retailers play in food education
  • Creating excitement around food: Adding cooking into the school ciriculum
  • Changing the world by building communities and valuing food


Sneak peek: 

Forming communities around food

About Mary

CEO, FoodCycle

  • CEO of FoodCycle
  • Passionate about reducing food poverty through community meals
If you could invite 1 person to a dinner party – who would it be and why?
Peter Bradley – he is one of FoodCycle’s most outstanding volunteers. He works really hard to promote FoodCycle at every opportunity – he also is a Rotarian and works hard to involve as many people as possible in all the volunteering that he does. He brings great joy, inspiration time effort and care to everything that he does. We could all learn from Peter and I think his passion for life would make him a great guest at a dinner party.
What motivates you? Makes you happy?
I’m motivated by people. I’m fortunate enough to work with 8,000 volunteers who give their time to ensure that people who are hungry and lonely have a fantastic meal in a really warm gentle and kind atmosphere every week. Every time I visit or cook at one of our 40 projects I get a real buzz from the work that our volunteers achieve and the smiles I see on our guests faces.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Be true to yourself and the rest will follow.
If you could make 1 global change – what would it be?
Stop food from being thrown away in landfill or AD – ensure we work hard to give it to people first.
What are your Top 3 achievements?
Enabling a charity to grow from serving 400 people per week using surplus food and volunteers to 1400 people per week in five years.

Being brave enough to transform the charity (people, culture, process) and stop it doing activities that deflected from its core purpose.

Standing in for Justin King at a conference in Brazil at his request as he was no longer able to make the date.

What does sustainability mean for you?
Sustainability to me is around food systems as that’s what I know. Its about eating food that is nutritious and in season with knowledge about using it best so as not to waste. Sustainability for me is also about respect; by acknowledging the incredible work and resource that has gone into putting food on the table, we will be less likely to discard it and have a better relationship with food.

This respect extends to the planet; ourselves – in what we are willing to consume; animal welfare and food systems that support diversity of species.

What was the most important event/influence that changed your perspective?
Witnessing a community meal at FoodCycle in my first week. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people wanting to prepare the best possible food for people whom they may never have met. Until then I had always thought about food waste being an important problem to solve and then I learned of a really humane solution.

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