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What happens to our surplus food? 21/11/2018, Catering

Food waste is a very hot topic. Every year UK households throw 7 million tonnes of edible food and drink away. As a food retailer we have our part to play in reducing food waste. One key component of the purpose of fresh-range is to develop food security for generations to come. Reducing food waste and addressing the issues of food poverty locally have therefore been a focus from the start of the project.

The fresh-range model already reduces surplus food to an absolute minimum due to the way we fulfil food-to-order for our customers, using short, light and fast supply chains from local farmers, fishermen, makers and bakers. However, occasionally we do need to buy in more than our customers need as food often comes in large case sizes. This can occasionally result in small amounts of surplus food as we won’t supply food that isn’t at peak freshness to our customers.

We have been working for nearly 2 years now with a fantastic local Keynsham-based charity called Community At 67 who make a wonderful difference for local people. They provide a community facility open and accessible to all local residents offering a range of services, advice and training courses.

Fresh-range donate fresh surplus produce that is used for Mandy’s Friday Lunch Club to provide a meal for up to 30 local people every Friday, including families struggling to survive changes in the benefit system and isolated elderly members of the community.

We went along to Community At 67 to see for ourselves what impact this charity has had in supporting people in the local area.

Community At 67 is run entirely by volunteers and has no regular financial backers, meaning the surplus food fresh-range deliver is key to the ongoing program of support. Mandy’s Kitchen sprung up from an idea one of the volunteers had - Mandy Oliver wanted to help educate people in trying vegetables they were unfamiliar with by running taster sessions. A wonderful cook with a larger than life personality, Mandy encouraged the community to experiment and try new, fresh vegetables. This then turned into a full-blown Friday Lunch Club where Mandy cooks delicious and nutritional meals served to guests from the local community.

During our visit volunteer Lucy Humbert was in charge of preparing and cooking 3 courses – starting off with a homemade cabbage, bacon & pea soup, followed by sausages, mash & onion gravy, finished off with apple pie & custard. It’s amazing to see what can be produced with a few quality ingredients, in a small kitchen with a very dedicated and hard-working team of volunteers. Absolutely nothing is wasted – if there is any leftover food it is packaged up for guests to take home.

It was clearly evident just how much the community values this service. A place where guests and volunteers can meet new people, make friends and share conversations. A place that helps support people living with hunger and food poverty – often in relative isolation - and supports social connections. This resource not only sustains them through the day but also helps to alleviate feelings of social isolation by providing a fun and safe environment for people to meet friends and socialise.

“It’s more than the sum of its parts...but without the selfless support of food providers like yourselves it wouldn’t be what it has become.” Trustee, Christina Smith.

Community At 67 make a huge difference in their local community by bringing people together around a good hearty meal, cooked by fabulous volunteers. Here at fresh-range we greatly value our relationship with this charity and are proud to be a part of the services they provide.