Skip to main content

Ethical business   |   Mental health

New Year’s Honour for FoodCycle boss

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.”   

Mary McGrath
Mary McGrath: Honoured for services to disadvantaged people. 

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.



8 Months 1 Week

As a Foodcycle volunteer I wish to say well done and very well deserved to Mary. she is a fantastic inspirational CEO and excellent role model of how to be a good CEO. Not only doe she know many of the hundreds of volunteers by name but makes regular visits to the projects where she takes such an interest in the way we produce the meals. Pity there aren't more CEOs like her!

0 Reply

Wicked Leeks issue 7 is out now

With a focus on regenerative farming, a cover interview with ethical restaurateur Asma Khan and we answer your questions on price, plastic and organic farming. Plus the joy of seasonal summer eating.

Read more

Ethical organic veg boxes

Riverford Organic Farmers, leading the Veg Revolution since 1986.

Shop Riverford

Guy's news...

Founder of Riverford Guy Singh-Watson writes a weekly column with news from the farm and more...

Read more
Spread the word

The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.