The teacher who bought food with only yellow stickers saved 60,000 items from being sold

An elementary school teacher coaxed Whoopi Queen to buy only low-cost food, saving 60,000 items worth thousands of pounds from going to the bin in just 19 months before distributing them for free to the public. Frustrated by the amount of food thrown away while working as a cook at a fast food restaurant in 1999, while teaching elementary school at the university, Deborah Dolloghan, 41, has been passionate about fighting unnecessary waste.

A yellow-sticker reduced food shopper for the next two decades, during the lockdown in November 2020, he saw someone posting online about Olio – an app that allows people to bin their surplus supermarket produce. Organizes the distribution of – and is trained to immediately become one of its ‘Food Waste Heroes’.

Now, with the help of her husband James Dolloghan, 43, a caregiver, and four children, Millie, 11, Jacob, 10, Luke, seven, and Isaiah, one, Deborah, Middlesbrough, Tyne & Wear, collect food and store it. Holding hands says: “This app was made for me! I became so obsessed with food waste and low section shopping that my friends started calling me the Whoopi Queen.

“Now I feel that connecting to the Olio app and ensuring that not much food is wasted is my calling. Plus, it means my entire family can connect with my passion.”

On top of her full-time job as an elementary school teacher, Deborah spends five nights each week collecting extra food from her local supermarket, taking pictures of it and listing it on the app — before people come and pick it up. Eagerly waiting for UP.

She said: “My kids are helping me by gathering food with me and sorting pictures of it so people can see what we have. One of my sons has befriended a lovely old lady and they exchange flowers and chocolates, which is gorgeous. It is very important for me and I want to instill these values ​​in my children.

With food prices soaring, as the country faces its highest inflation in 40 years, Deborah says more people have left her home than ever to collect freebies.

She said: “I’ve seen a huge influx of newcomers, because I know regular people and I know their names. But with the food price crisis, more and more people are relying on such services.

“I’ve had messages from people asking if they would be considered for a donut because they have seven kids, and it’s actually quite heartbreaking. I’ve seen a lot of people who depend on freebies.

“One Friday when I was at a party I didn’t take anything and the next week a lady came up to me and asked me why I wasn’t there. This was going to be her family’s food for the next few days.”

carry a specific meal
(Image: PA Real Life)

When Deborah’s interest in the food waste app was piqued by a social media post in November 2020, she found that she had to complete a six-hour training course to qualify as a food-wasting hero—which she did on her own. Completed in first attempt.

She said: “I was excited, because their mission is to end food waste, which I thought I would do if I was business-minded.”

According to Deborah, her first run was a “baptism of fire,” as she pulled about 200 items, including sandwiches, butter, milk, yogurt, and vegetables. Worried about wasting food if no one came to claim, he knocked on the doors of 20 neighbors in his quiet cul-de-sac, and by the end of the night, a dozen had signed up.

She said: “It was difficult, because Olio had just started flying, so initially I panicked because I had all these items. I was so worried, I went to all my neighbors and left the prescription , as well as told everyone in his family.

“Around 12 people attended that night and requested food, so it was all gone. That first night was a baptism of fire, because I didn’t know what to do. It was a bit overwhelming, but it was a huge learning curve. ,

Plain sailing since then, Deborah feels her role has now reached a fine art. Five nights a week she goes to the supermarket at 8.30, then she goes home with the food she’s collected and photographed and listed on the app so that by 9.30 p.m. punters can knock on her door – her own With kids and her husband all helping to give.

Family
Deborah and her family
(Image: PA Real Life)

She said: “I’m a teacher and that’s very important, but it’s also really important to reduce food waste. This is my labor of love. I take this really seriously, because it is a cause that is close to my heart.

“As soon as I did that first night, I knew this is what I had to do – and my husband could see my secret spark. He was very confused about what it was all about, but he saw that I was inclined towards it.” He was so obsessed and he knew how important it was to me.”

After collecting items from supermarkets, people have until midnight to pick them up in order to comply with Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulations. Deborah is eager to dispel any stigma about food as it nears its expiration date, because it’s still fresh and cheap or, in this case, it’s free.

She said: “Many people think that eating in moderation is less good, or that it will make you sick. But it’s still out of date and means you get to try new things.

“I once made vegetarian minced meat because it was there and it was lovely. It opens up a world of opportunities.”

Deborah has so far saved 60,000 items from Binny – 33,000 through Olio and 27,000 through her school using the Farshare app, where they redistribute the extra food to charities and schools that turn it into food. And he has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Family Helping
Deborah’s family helps
(Image: PA Real Life)

Not only is she content to know that she has made a difference, she says the venture has also made her closer to her neighbors.

She said: “It’s also become a part of my social life, because I’ve made friends with a lot of people who are doing the same thing. I have lived in a criminal’s house for five years and never knew my neighbors. Now I know exactly what kind of bread their kids like. Food has brought us together. ,

Another benefit, according to Deborah, is that food-wasting heroes are allowed to take in 10 percent of the food collected on any given night—meaning she has to buy bread, milk, fruit or vegetables since having one. do not require.

She said: “If there are 200 items you can have 20 and it affects the food store, as I usually choose bread, milk, fruits and vegetables.”

Deborah now hopes to inspire more people to join the app, help the fight against food waste, and help other members of her community.

She added: “It’s a great way to help the planet and help others.”

For more information on Food Waste Heroes, visit

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