Half a year into a new trial between The Co-operative Food in Freshwater and The Real Junk Food Project IOW, the partnership has already made a significant difference to the community.
Organiser of The Real Junk Food Project IOW, Faith Stickland, has said that the food donations have been turned into hundreds of 3-course meals, filled dozens of lunch boxes and supported a number of struggling families via the foodbank.
The Real Junk Food Project IOW, currently partners with a number of food stores and local producers to prevent useable products going to landfill including food, toiletries and cleaning products.
Organisers use the donated products in three different ways – in a monthly community Meet and Eat at St Saviours Church in Totland run by Timebank volunteers; to make daily collections of products available to the public on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis at the West Wight Sport and Community Centre; and through a new lunchbox scheme during school holidays.
“None of this would have happened without the Southern Co-op store in Freshwater being prepared to do extra work helping sort food out that would otherwise have been thrown away.
“The Store Manager Neil has been exceptional. He has come to our Meet and Eats on two occasions bringing a colleague with him to show how the food is being made good use of.
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“I’d also like to say a big thank you to Sally from Timebank who initiated the Meet and Eat cook ups and covers the costs. We are a very caring community. It becomes infectious! Thank you for your part in all this.”
Other supporters include Sainsbury’s Local, Freshwater, and The Village Store, in Brighstone, which all supply food that can safely be offered to the community.
The Co-operative Food store in Freshwater is part of Southern Co-op – the regional, independent co-operative. Southern Co-op has been working with all of its convenience stores to reduce the amount of waste but its Freshwater store, due to its larger supermarket size, has the ability to make more donations to the Real Junk Food Project IOW.
Neil Riley, Store Manager, said:
“From a store perspective it has been a big success. The processes are very well embedded and the communication is very open and honest.
“We understand that this is a team effort. The social implications of the food we donate have been far reaching. From the occasional involvement I have had with some of the programmes, I think it’s obvious to see the great success this partnership has been.
“I’m immensely proud to be a part of the Real Junk Food Project Isle of Wight network and especially proud we have been able to support Faith in her endeavours. She truly is an inspirational woman with a passion for doing good in her community.”
The store currently donates around 9 boxes and tubs of fruit, vegetables, pastries and bread 3 times a week which works out more than 700 in the first 6 months.
During half terms, the number of donations and pick ups are increased to support the half term lunchbox drive which helps support families to feed their children during the school holidays.
Launched in the summer, the programme initially ran for 17 days and 148 boxes were made up with a variety of goodies cakes, pastries, chocolate biscuits, crisps and more nutritional content from rolls and sandwiches with protein and salad.
During the October half term, Freshwater Methodist Church offered a venue to run the Lunchbox project from and, with thanks to Timebank volunteers, it provided soup and sarnies for 119 lunchboxes. It was also used as an opportunity to talk to children about food waste including learning the difference between use by dates and best before dates.
To find out more about the projects run by the Real Junk Food Project IOW, email [email protected].