Each year, businesses are reminded to share the great strides they are taking to give something back to their local communities, during Responsible Business Week.

So many businesses are making efforts to use their skills and resources to help make a difference in today’s society, and Responsible Business Week offers businesses the opportunity to highlight the inroads they are making in being part of real change in their community.

In 2014 Keytree was introduced to Plan Zheroes – a small surplus food charity working hard to connect businesses with surplus food to nearby charities and community groups who could use it. Companies in the UK waste three million tonnes of food a year, according to Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), while 8.4 million people struggle with food insecurity. A group of passionate volunteers, who were keen to do something to address this issue, created the charity Plan Zheroes.

Lauren Celeste Hooper

Plan Zheroes

“Keytree is an excellent example of how SME companies can use their skills and expertise for social good.”

Laura Hopper – CEO at Plan Zheroes

The plan to eradicate food poverty and food waste

Connecting organisations with surplus food to nearby charities was a very time consuming and manual process. It often meant calling or visiting businesses, then researching and calling charities who could put the food to good use. What started as a grassroots organisation is now a registered charity, but there were limits to what volunteers could redistribute, while an abundance of food continued to be thrown away on a daily basis.

Keytree possessed the user experience and software development skills that could help Plan Zheroes, but equally as important identified with the mission of Plan Zheroes and the vision for the type of food donation system the charity was trying to create. Based near Covent Garden in Central London, Keytree witnessed each day the vast amounts of food thrown away by restaurants and cafes alongside people living on the streets who could benefit from that food. Plan Zheroes’ vision to create an online platform that linked businesses, charities and volunteers within a community was the type of open system that appealed to Keytree’s founding principles.

So Keytree worked with Plan Zheroes to create the food donation online platform – offering their employees time and experience to produce a fantastic platform to allow businesses to post donations of surplus food online, and for nearby charities to claim and collect it.

banner Plan Zheroes

Always making a difference – every day

Today, Plan Zheroes redistributes up to five tonnes of edible surplus food every month, including items such as fruit and vegetables, artisan bread, frozen meats fish and dairy as well as prepared meals and packaged sandwiches, drinks and snacks. Plan Zheroes work with companies such as Nando’s, Compass Group and Delaware North as well as small manufacturers and market traders.

Keytree also supports Plan Zheroes in other ways such as participating in Wok for 1,000, an annual corporate cooking class aimed at raising funds for the charity. Some Keytree staff also volunteer for the charity in their own time.

In September 2017, Keytree was awarded the City of London Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for Innovation – acknowledging the creation and ongoing development of the Plan Zheroes platform.

Keytree continues to provide technical support and development of new features on the platform, and Laura Hopper, CEO of Plan Zheroes said: “Keytree is an excellent example of how SME companies can use their skills and expertise for social good.”

Dan McNamara, Keytree’s CEO said: “We are thrilled we can use our expertise at Keytree to support such a worthwhile charity. The team at Plan Zheroes work relentlessly to make sure people who are less fortunate in London do not go hungry, and it is a truly humbling experience to work with them.”

Maybe your business could also become more socially and environmentally responsible by supporting Plan Zheroes. You can donate your surplus food, offer staff enriching volunteering opportunities or provide pro-bono support.