FoodCloud is one of Ireland’s largest social enterprises, redistributing surplus food from retailers and food businesses to charities who need it.

Interview with Iseult Ward, CEO and Co-Founder

Why was FoodCloud set-up?

I had always been very passionate about food, and I never understood why it was going to waste, particularly when there were so many people who couldn’t access enough food.
While studying Business and Economics in college, I felt I could apply what I was learning to an enterprise that could prioritise having a positive social and environmental impact. I came together with Aoibheann O’Brien, Co-Founder of FoodCloud, to do something about it.

What impact has Rethink Ireland had on FoodCloud?

We were honoured to be the first recipients of Rethink Ireland’s Growth Fund. The support allowed us to focus and develop a robust three-year strategic plan to optimally position the organisation for sustainable future growth. During Covid-19 we doubled the amount of food redistributed in Ireland from an average of 25 tonnes per week in February before the pandemic to over 60 tonnes per week. We couldn’t have done it without Rethink Ireland and the support of AIB.

What are your plans for the future?

Our vision for Ireland is for an environmentally friendly food system that supports food secure and resilient communities by 2030.
We also aim to connect a global community of food redistribution organisations through our technology platform to support the reduction of food waste internationally.

What advice would you give to budding social innovators?

You must understand the problem you are trying to solve from the user perspective. In the early days, we spent a lot of time in-store talking to staff who would be donating and a lot of time speaking to charities who would be collecting the food to get an understanding of their needs.

What is your best experience with FoodCloud?

One of the most exciting projects was our recent climate campaign. With support from Rethink Ireland we launched our first-ever awareness campaign around the enormous environmental issue of food waste.

Through FoodCloud, we have been able to offer much more variety in terms of the meals for our service users. Providing daily food like we do, encourages attendance from our young people and helps us bond with them, as well as enabling us to connect with them in ways that are impossible without using food. Food is a great unifier and we couldn’t envision not using it. Our project wouldn’t be the same without it! – Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service