Chesterfield leads the way to tackle food poverty

The huge need for foodbanks to combat poverty in the Chesterfield area, and around the rest of Derbyshire was highlighted this week as not one but two new food stores opened their doors.

- £500k spent by DCC to tackle food poverty

- 8,000 free meals will be distributed each month

- 1tn of food saved from waste every week

Chesterfield is now a hub for communities to rely on as the charity sector becomes increasingly important in feeding families who can’t afford to feed themselves.

Last Friday (November 27) MP Toby Perkins cut the ribbon at the opening of a new site for the Chesterfield foodbank, run by the national charity, the Trussel Trust.

Based out of Carrwood Industrial Estate, they now have a major base to provide users and charities with food to put on Chesterfield’s table.

Ian Birchmore of the Chesterfield foodbank said: “Unfortunately we have a great need for people and agencies in and around Chesterfield.

“We go to Brimington on Monday, Gates in Chesterfield on Tuesday and Loundsley Green community centre on Fridays.

“That’s where people come to pick up a food parcel, and agencies come on behalf of their clients.”

FareShare patron Rosemary Conley introduced the initiative.

FareShare patron Rosemary Conley introduced the initiative.

Toby Perkins said: “It’s a tremendous pleasure to open this foodbank. The contribution that that everyone across Chesterfield who donate to the foodbank makes this a community success and a vital asset to everyone. “

Meanwhile, a new depot serving foodbanks and charities throughout Derbyshire represents a major step in how the county is countering food poverty.

Thanks to funding from Derbyshire County Council, national charity FareShare has a base in Holmewood outside Chesterfield, to distributes surplus food from major retailers like Tesco and Sainsburys.

Key organisers and foodbank leaders attended a grand opening on Tuesday, December 1 to have a look around the amazing social initiative, which aims to tackle both food poverty and pandemic food wastage, which currently means half of all food production doesn’t get eaten.

Project manager Simone Connolly orders lunch at the Super Kitchen mobile diner.

Project manager Simone Connolly orders lunch at the Super Kitchen mobile diner.

It’s a huge step forward for the county as foodbanks will now have easy access to a system which provides them with fresh produce – changing the lives of their users who largely survive on tins, pasta and other non-perishable, but not particularly nutritious foods.

Patron of the charity and TV diet and exercise expert Rosemary Conley told us how important it was in the ‘war on waste’. We are currently fighting.

She said: “Just realising how much waste there is in the UK, it’s extraordinary. But Fare Share offers that lifeline, turning that waste to good, for the good of the people, giving healthy food to people most in need.

“This is a fantastic charity. Derbyshire desperately needs help in feeding families in poverty, and what’s wonderful about FareShare is that it’s all fresh food, and all in date.

Cllr Dave Allen spearheaded Derbyshire County Council’s plan to boost FareShare as part of the Feeding Derbyshire initiative.

He said: “ We’ve managed to secure some money from the public health budget, and it very much fits with our priorities on poverty and deprivation. This gives people the chance to get much more variety, fresher food and better quality, so we can help people have healthier diets.”

Ribbon cutting to mark the opening, L/R,  Lindsay Boswell, FareShare Chief executive, Coun Dave Allen, Rosemary Conley, John Willetts-Chairman of Trustees, and project manager Simone Connolly.

Ribbon cutting to mark the opening, L/R, Lindsay Boswell, FareShare Chief executive, Coun Dave Allen, Rosemary Conley, John Willetts-Chairman of Trustees, and project manager Simone Connolly.

FareShare doesn’t just help foodbanks, of course. One social enterprise which will also make use of the depot is Super Kitchen.

A brand new enterprise model, Super Kitchen is the brainchild of Marsha Smith and is an exciting initiative aiming to bring people back together at the dinner table, and to make eating a social experience in the community, even if they can’t afford to eat in a fancy restaurant.

After startng the scheme in Nottingham, former support worker and academic Marsha, 40, is now working with the County Council to bring new ‘social eating’ spaces to every district in Derbyshire.

She uses her mobile kitchen as an example. Today, it’s being used to provide lunch for some thirty-odd people at the launch, but it can be set up just about anywhere and lay on a very tasty spread using only surplus food from FareShare’s depot.

Marsha says: “The Super Kitchen model is all about creating the spaces for us to be the humans we are. Eating over meals together, being sociable, conversational and compassionate are humans needs.

And unlike foodbanks, social eating is not done by referral. “Everybody is welcome to come and have a social meal. There are many people who might have plenty of money but they may be very isolated, and might have mental health issues. Everyone should be able to afford to eat a meal together.

So to her, DCC’s input into FareShare means ‘social eating’ is an idea that can spread through Derbyshire.

“They’ve invested in that infrastructure to get the model of social eating using surplus food out there.”

John Willetts, chairman of trustees for FareShare East Midlands, said: “We are thrilled and delighted to be part of the feeding Derbyshire programme set up by Derbyshire County Council for the benefit of bringing in good quality food which isn’t required by the food industry, and going to help people within communities in Derbyshire.”

What is FareShare?

FareShare is a surplus food distribution charity active throughout the country.

They’re closest depot was in Leicester but now Derbyshire has it’s own hub to help local charities and agencies.

It’s stocked with tins, boxes and packets, and also perishable food including fresh fruit and vegetable, dairy produce and meat.

It will distribute an amazing array of foods to 16 food banks, 35 school breakfast clubs, eight ‘Super Kitchens’ and other community eating projects

It’s part of the ‘Feeding Derbyshire’ partnership to find sustainable solutions to food poverty and help families with low incomes, benefit delays and debt to feed themselves.

Super Kitchen pioneer Marsha Smith provided lunch for the launch.

Super Kitchen pioneer Marsha Smith provided lunch for the launch.