Virtual Study Group - Feeding Vulnerable People

29 June – 01 July 2020

V-KEMS will host a virtual study group with FareShare on the topic of feeding vulnerable people.

The ‘Study Group’ model has proved to be a very effective means of delivering mathematical based problem solving on problems coming from industry or other areas of science. In a standard study group, ‘problems’ are presented on the first day, teams work on them intensively for several days (usually a week), and then presentations are delivered on the last day, with reports shortly after. It has been shown to be a valuable way of connecting communities and importantly impactful.

At a time where physical collaboration is difficult, the study group model has been successfully utilised in recent weeks to explore challenges in unlocking the workforce, and opening up university spaces.

The Challenge

How can the mathematical sciences provide support in a) forecasting demand for surplus food products over the coming months and b) incentivising relationships with producers to ensure FareShare is well supported by the food supply chain.

FareShare is the UK’s largest charity fighting hunger and food waste who look to unlock the economic and social value of redistributed surplus food. Through its network, FareShare redistributes good quality surplus food from the food industry and sends it to nearly 10,000 charities and community groups including homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and community cafes [ref].

In the present environment, organisations like FareShare have seen an unprecedented demand for their services, in addition the food surplus levels have been drastically altered (driven in part by consumer behaviour. FareShare would like to discuss ways in which the mathematical sciences might provide support in:

  • Understanding and forecasting how demand for surplus food products is likely to change over the coming months. In particular, as well as scale of demand, where geographically might the demand be, and where should FareShare scale up its activity?
  • Incentivising relationships with producers. Over 50 % of total food wastage occurs at the farm level. How might FareShare develop strategies to ensure that it is the first port of call for receiving surplus?


Draft Agenda

Day One – 29 Jun 2020

09:30 – 09:45 Introduction
09:45 – 10:15 Challenge Presentation
10:15 – 10:30 Q&A
10:30 – 11:00 Academic response and discussion
11:00 – 11:30 Tool overview and division
11:30 – 12:00 Break
12:00 – 16:00 Group work*
16:00 – 16:30 Whole group catch up

Day Two – 30 Jun 2020

09:30 – 10:00 Informal catch-up
10:00 – 16:00 Group work*
16:00 – 16:30 Whole group catch up


Day Three – 01 Jul 2020

09:30 – 10:00 Informal catch-up
10:00 – 15:30 Group work*
15:30 – 16:30 Final Presentations


* A particular advantage of virtual study groups are their flexibility to peoples availability as such these long group work sessions can be structured as best suits the participants. Facilitators for each group will capture availability and help structure the work


Registration is now closed. Any questions, contact