The first food redistribution hub in Lincolnshire has opened, part of a pioneering project which will divert surplus food to organisations fighting food poverty.
Unsold food – such as fruit and veg, bread and baked goods and chilled food – will be collected from retailers and suppliers and taken to the hub. It’s then shared between organisations that can use it to support people in need, including food banks, community larders, school holiday clubs and community cafes.
The hub, which is based at Vulcan Park off George Street in Lincoln, is run by charity FareShare. The £60,000 project has been funded by Lincolnshire Co-op and the Lincolnshire Community Foundation.
Initially, the food will come from 21 Lincolnshire Co-op food stores in Lincoln and the surrounding villages, and from Gousto, a major food supplier with two sites in Spalding.
It will be shared between charities in Lincoln, East Lindsey and North East Lincolnshire who are members of FareShare.
FareShare Midlands is working closely with FareShare Hull and Humber to encourage more organisations in those areas to sign up to a FareShare Community Food Membership. This enables groups to access food for a nominal fee, which covers operational costs.
FareShare Midlands Director Simone Connolly said: “The effects of Covid-19 have hit people hard, and by working with the food industry we want to unlock more surplus food to be shared with charities and community groups who are getting food to those who need it most.”
FareShare Hull & Humber Development Manager Louisa Ingleson said: “This is an example of organisations coming together to make a difference. It’s great to be working with our partners in Lincolnshire.”
Supermarkets, suppliers and food production and manufacturing firms are also being encouraged to join the scheme, which is supported by The Lincolnshire Food Partnership.
Lincolnshire Co-op’s Head of Marketing, Membership and Community Laura Dunne said: “All organisations working in the food industry know how important the issue of food waste is to our customers. We work hard to reduce the amount of surplus we produce in our stores and we’re delighted to take part in this scheme getting unsold food to people who need it in our area.”
The hub will be staffed by a mix of FareShare colleagues and volunteers. More volunteers are needed to help with tasks including driving the collection and delivery vehicles and helping to sort and pack the food in the warehouse.
The hub aims to redistribute the equivalent of 1,200 meals to each community organisation every month.
One group that already benefits from a FareShare membership is Sleaford New Life Community Larder, based at Sleaford New Life Centre, which sources food from another Fareshare Hub.
Project Team Leader Rod Munro said: “Working in partnership with FareShare has enabled us to support many more families and individuals across our town and district than before.
“Alongside our Community Larder, we have been able to launch a Community Food Table ensuring that anyone requiring access to food, gets it. Additionally, we have been able to deliver hot and cold meals to senior citizens locally.”
The hub – which will be called the FareShare Food Redistribution Hub – is initially a six-month pilot.
Lincolnshire Community Foundation CEO Sue Fortune said: “We’re proud to help establish this vital resource. Not only will surplus food be distributed in a planned, co-ordinated way across a wide area where there’s clear demand, but volunteers will be engaged in meaningful activity that will have an impact and may enhance their skill set and experience.”
To sign up to be a FareShare member and benefit from the Lincoln Food Redistribution Hub or to volunteer or donate surplus food, go the the FareShare website.