£30k funding will boost support to help those in need across Lancaster district
Community projects which support Lancaster residents by redistributing surplus food have been granted extra funding to help expand their services.
FoodFutures, Lancaster District Food Poverty Alliance and Eggcup have been awarded funding to increase local capacity to redistribute surplus food and support local communities.
The pandemic has led to a huge increase in household food insecurity, with more people accessing food support than ever before in the Lancaster district.
In response, local organisations and communities from across the district have massively increased their capacity to provide support.
Food banks, food clubs and community projects are working closely together through the Lancaster District Food Poverty Alliance (LDFPA), which is part of a local Sustainable Food Places Partnership: FoodFutures.
This partnership has been awarded a £30,000 grant from Sustainable Food Places to support Eggcup (an LDFPA and FoodFutures member) in taking forward a new initiative to increase the flow of surplus food into the district’s food support network.
Access to quality, fresh food is a key challenge for supporting greater numbers of households locally.
Eggcup is the Lancaster district’s surplus food depot – working to intercept food that might otherwise go to waste from supermarkets, national distributors and from local food businesses. They offer its members access to more affordable food to supplement the weekly shop whilst at the same time reducing the amount of food going to waste.
Despite efforts of organisations such as Eggcup and other community run food clubs across the district, a vast amount of food still gets wasted.
Hundreds of food businesses locally, including large producers and manufacturers, are not currently redistributing their surplus food because there is no viable option.
Much of this untapped food needs processing to make it accessible to households. For instance, Eggcup was given two pallets of flour packed in 16kg bags at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, when commercial bakeries servicing catering and hospitality closed or reduced capacity. Hundreds of kilos of flour had to be repackaged into sizes households could use.
There are also issues with logistics. Much of the surplus food currently accessed comes through the redistribution provider (Fareshare) and is primarily obtained from national scale supermarkets and food businesses.
This needs to be complemented with regional redistribution networks that are accessible to smaller scale, local food businesses.
This requires coordinated transport, storage and distribution which Eggcup’s professional distribution hub is well placed to provide.
The funding boost from Sustainable Food Places will therefore enable Eggcup to overcome the following three main challenges to accessing more local, surplus food:
*Engaging with local food businesses. Each business will have its own operations and processes that may need to be adjusted in order to access surplus food. Eggcup will work with local businesses to build relationships and create tailored solutions.
*Logistics of intercepting local surplus food. Funding will support the purchase of a van, running costs and staff time to increase Eggcup’s capacity to collect and distribute the additional food.
*Processing and packaging hard to use foods. The greatest opportunity to access untapped surplus food is from wholesalers, manufacturers, processors and other non-retail focused food businesses. Much of the additional surplus food will require processing before it can be distributed through our food support network. Funding will increase Eggcup’s food processing capabilities with additional equipment and infrastructure.
Once food has been intercepted and processed, Eggcup will work with other organisations and projects from across the District to ensure that this food is getting to households who need it most. This project aims to build community resilience not just by increasing the amount of local and fresh food available for redistribution, but also by supporting greater collaboration and connectivity across the food support network going forwards.
Thanks to Sustainable Food Places and their funders, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation & The National Lottery Community Fund, for the opportunity to take this exciting initiative forward.
Co-chair of FoodFutures partnership, Jamie Murphy, said: "I am delighted that Eggcup has been able to secure this funding. The work that Eggcup does is essential, and this will enable an expansion that not only allows more people access to affordable and nutritious food but also reduces waste both locally and nationally.
"Only by working together and highlighting the work projects like Eggcup do, can we change food culture for the better and create a sustainable food network for everyone."
Lisa Shrimpton, co-xhair of LDFPA, said: "The Lancaster District Food Poverty Alliance (LDFPA) is absolutely delighted that Eggcup and FoodFutures have been successful in their bid for £30K from Sustainable Food Places.
"The LDFPA have a challenging and ambitious Action Plan, and this grant will enable some very significant steps to be made in further developing a joined up, well resourced, sustainable and effective food network across Lancaster district."
Eggcup project manager David France added: “It never ceases to amaze and disgust me how much edible food is wasted. We need to rethink our food system to prevent this from happening.
"Until then, this funding will make a huge difference to how we can help local businesses to keep good food out of the bin so it can be used for its intended purpose - feeding people.
"Whilst food is going to waste, many struggle to get the food they need. Everyone should be able to pay their household bills and still have enough money to feed themselves and their family with good, nutritious food.
"But we are seeing more and more people in our community whose income barely covers the basics. That’s just not acceptable.
"The extra food made available with this funding will allow Eggcup and our partners to expand, supporting more people to access affordable food. At the same time, we’ll be fighting for the real change that’s needed for everyone to live well.”