The chief executive of food and social isolation charity FoodCycle, Mary McGrath, has been awarded an MBE for professional and voluntary services to disadvantaged people in the New Year’s Honours list 2021.
The award marks McGrath’s career in working tirelessly to fight food poverty, social isolation and food waste through her work with national charities including FoodCycle, FareShare and Grocery Aid.
It comes in a year of surging demand for food charities, with FoodCycle’s work with people suffering both food poverty and social isolation coming to the fore during the pandemic.
“I am thrilled to be included in this year’s Honours List,” said McGrath. “I hope this award will help to increase awareness of the amazing work we do at FoodCycle to strengthen communities by bringing people together for a healthy meal – at a time when help is needed more than ever.”
In normal times, FoodCycle cooks free meals from surplus food donated by local businesses, including organic veg box company Riverford in Devon, to anyone in the community who needs it. During the pandemic, the charity pivoted to deliveries and begun its own ‘check in and chat’ service to maintain a social connection to isolated people.
When she joined FoodCycle in late 2013, McGrath recognised its potential to develop communities through social dining, and since she took over, the organisation has grown from 400 community dining events per year to serving 1,500 guests per week at 42 locations across the country.
FoodCycle chair, Stephen Catling, said: “I am delighted Mary has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours 2021 for her outstanding contribution and leadership in supporting communities through our charity. It is also a great recognition of the amazing work from the whole team at FoodCycle across the UK.”
As well as her work at FoodCycle, McGrath sits on the board of trustees at The Bread and Butter Thing, a charity that makes life more affordable for people on a low income, builds stronger communities and reduces food waste.