Shrewsbury Food Hub's Story
It was soon apparent that there was a lot more surplus food being wasted at local supermarkets and the benefit to the community accessing the food was enormous. For example cutting Severn Hospice's food budget by 30%, allowing them to divert funds raised to other vital work. Also the positive environmental impact of taking the food that last mile into bellies not bins, proved to be worthwhile.
Shrewsbury Food Hub has grown exponentially. As of January 2021, over 100 volunteers collect ambient food from 20 supermarkets 7 days a week and share with groups inc. schools, local homelessness charity, women's refuge. Also 5 community freezers & 1 fridge has been established, whereby volunteers safely collect and deliver chilled and frozen food from suppliers. This allows the community to access a wider variety of nutrition & saves high carbon products such as meat and dairy from being wasted.
From Apr 19 - Mar 20, 82 tonnes of food was saved from waste. Equivalent to £318,583 worth of food & 550 tonnes CO2 equivalent. From Apr 20 - Mar 21 it is estimated that SFH's impact will have increased.
Useful Learnings from Shrewsbury Food Hub
Food safety has to be at the heart of dealing with surplus food. Educating volunteers & community groups on this is vital.
To access surplus food we are registered with platforms such as Fareshare GO & Neighbourly. Although we find having a personal relationship with supermarket managers & staff locally is beneficial to make the system run smoothly.
Surplus food is by nature unpredictable. Any organisation dealing with it has to be flexible, fast thinking & have lots of outlets within the community to deal with BREAD MOUNTAIN! (Bakery items are never in shortage when dealing with surplus supermarket food).
In terms of messaging, we explicitly state we are an environmental food waste initiative, not a food bank. Everyone is welcome to the food, to help us get it eaten. Although useful to stretch people's budgets, surplus food is unpredictable and therefore not the same as a rounded food parcel and the support that comes with it. We work closely with organisations that address food insecurity and signpost people to them.
The biggest positive to come out of Shrewsbury Food Hub is the network that has been established amongst community groups, volunteers, food suppliers, council etc locally. Not only does food travel amongst the network, but information, support & problem-solving. This has been particularly apparent during Covid 19 Pandemic.
Shrewsbury Food Hub's Metrics
Also considered is the benefit and opportunity the surplus food provides for our community e.g. reducing community group budgets, providing ingredients for breakfast clubs, enabling community meals/ cookery classes.