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7 things you didn't know about my job: Helping surplus food get to people who need it

Darragh Doyle of FoodCloud tells the story of how reading an email accidentally changed his career.

FoodCloud FoodCloud

STAYING ON TOP of your career can be a matter of both learning how other people work and also keeping your ear to ground about the variety of work available across the country.

In order to support that, we’re spending some time with the experts working in some of Ireland’s most exciting companies. We’ll find out all the little-known things about the role that they do, and the careers that they have paved for themselves.

Darragh Doyle is community manager at FoodCloud, an organisation that connects retailers with charities to distribute surplus food to those who need it. He tells us about his role sharing the work that FoodCloud do with a wider audience.

1. It all started with an accidental email…

In September 2016 I accidentally clicked into an email I hadn’t meant to open. It was a simple press release about Repak’s recycling week advising people about how green bins and entire trucks could become contaminated when  ”liquids can leak onto other dry recyclables eliminating their quality and value.” I was horrified.

I literally contacted Repak the same day to question this. In my naivety I hadn’t realised that people don’t pay as much attention to what they put in their green bins as I might or should and that oftentimes entire lorries are contaminated by people putting oil, nappies and other unsuitable things in their bin.

2. I knew immediately that FoodCloud had an incredible story to tell

cof Aldi's Kevin and Katie visit FoodCloud's Dublin Hub FoodCloud FoodCloud

I was contacted in February 2017 by Iseult Ward, CEO of FoodCloud. Iseult knew what I did and asked for advice in recruiting someone who could help share the great stories FoodCloud has from their partner charities and businesses, volunteers, and team.

I visited their Hub in Tallaght, saw their results and my immediate reaction was “WOW! Why aren’t you telling people about this? Why do more people not know about this?” I was deeply impressed and so I ended up pitching my services to them, both in helping them share their stories and expand their team. Here I am and I’ve never been happier.

3. I showcase the brilliant work that charities do

171027_NCP2_044 The Muslim Sisters of Eire hand out food Naoise Culhane Naoise Culhane

I take every opportunity I can to meet the charities. It helps to know who the charities are – I check what they’re doing and asked how they’re going. Muslim Sisters of Eire are Muslim women who do a soup run at the GPO every Friday out of their own pocket, and who welcome people of all ages, races, creeds and religious beliefs.

Whitefriar Community Centre has a pre-school and after-school lunch activities. Sophia Housing on Cork Street provide accommodation for those at risk of being homeless or in difficult situations. Trevor is the chef there and he is incredible.

4. It’s not about trending, it’s about real-life results

170911_NCP1_024 The FoodCloud team on a distribution run Naoise Culhane Naoise Culhane

My job is related to social media but it’s not a case of ‘oh my God, we are trending’. Our metrics are real-world and have a real impact. It’s ‘we have delivered this much food’ and ‘we have helped this many people’. Real-world metrics are exciting but challenging.

If I cut all social media for FoodCloud tomorrow, we’re still going to distribute food. I’m realistic about what that element of my job is. Social media is just one part of the marketing. Bringing people in to see the operations, demystifying the process through video is very important too.

5. Showcasing our work is essential

cof A tour visits FoodCloud's Dublin hub FoodCloud FoodCloud

Communication is probably the most important part of what I do. Charities and retailers want to know that we’re doing well. We work with over 7,000 charities in the UK and Ireland, redistributing surplus food from farms, producers and suppliers. Through technology, we connect businesses with too much food with local charities that can use it.

To date, FoodCloud has redistributed the equivalent of 23 million meals to over 7,000 charities and community groups in the UK and Ireland, with over 3,200 supermarkets and 120 food producers donating their surplus. We have saved charities an estimated €26,110,600 on food costs to date.

6. I find that staying connected is a delicate balance

171106_NCP2_180 The FoodCloud app Naoise Culhane Naoise Culhane

People in here are used to getting emails from me at weekends that are pages long. But I’m not the only one sending them. We have WhatsApp groups where we trade links and information. We share memes about Happy Pear too!

I learned a couple of years ago that I had to put the phone down sometimes. Friends were saying ‘I don’t want to go out with you and your phone’. When I have the phone and I have time to concentrate, I’ll work. You need to recognise what’s urgent and important.

7. My job has changed the way I live my life

In some ways you can’t avoid the attitude change because your friend’s attitudes to you change too – in a restaurant, people tell me not to waste food. The job came along as I was thinking about those things in my own life. I’m boring the pants off all of my friends with eco facts.

I did a thing called gleaning in a carrot field in Bettystown where you go out to a farm after the tractor has been through and pick up any vegetables left over. The leftover veg are ugly veg but they are left in the ground and are free to take. We’re not judging people for wasting food, we’re informing people about what they can do and showing that there’s more that can be done.

The People We Meet / YouTube

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