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Colin Mannion set up the Harrogate Waste Not Want Project 2 years ago as an umbrella organisation with a collection of local churches and charities.
The aim is to offer retailers and their suppliers a one-stop shop for the pick-up and distribution of all their end-of-day waste. The group includes the Harrogate Homeless Project, Horizon Life Training, St Mark’s Church, Woodlands Methodist Church, Knaresborough Community Centre and Life Destiny Church in Starbeck, and the group is looking to grow both in terms of suppliers and outreach organisations.
Each of the groups makes use of the food in slightly different way. For example, The Homeless Project uses it in their hostels for people that they are supporting, Woodlands Methodist Church use it for breakfast and lunch clubs and the Knaresborough Community Centre uses it to run their weekly “Cook-and-Eat” sessions.
Colin Mannion said:
It’s all about the partnerships – the organisations working together can achieve much more for the area than working individually, by sharing out food surplus and working with each other to minimise food waste.
Each of our partners do something in slightly different way, targeting different social needs – vulnerable and isolated adults or those struggling to make ends meet, for instance, by running “Pay-as-you-feel” Cafes, Cook-and-eat sessions or lunch clubs.
Around 90% of food waste happens in a retailers’ warehouse. That’s food that never makes it into store for various reasons, such as not having sufficient shelf-life.
FareShare are a national charity with a distribution centre in Leeds that works with the retailers at a warehouse level to distribute that waste food to charities that need it, for a nominal fee. You get around £20 back for every £1 spent.
This gives charities access not just to more food, but often food types that organisations are short of, like dairy and meat.
FareShare works often at a pallet-level volume of food. This creates challenges in breaking down that volume of food as some charities are small and don’t need a full FareShare allocation which is typically between 100Kg-150Kg.
We are looking into having our own dedicated refrigerated storage facility in the area to act as a food-sharing hub. The idea is that this will be a central distribution point for waste food for organisations in the town who need food to meet the needs of their service users. What we need is more partners to get involved that will enable us to take more Fareshare allocations and food from other sources such as The Real Junk Food Project, increasing the amount of food available for distribution and bringing the costs per partner down to a manageable level.
In the interim, what we have agreed with Fareshare is to set up a “virtual” hub for Harrogate, where Fareshare will park a refrigerated van in the area at a specific time and place where partners can pick up their allocation of food in chiller boxes.
Having the virtual hub will give us access to type of produce that we need in the short-term whilst the permanent hub takes shape.
Getting more partners involved will require more careful management of supply and demand, with new volunteers needed to help develop the processes and relationships that will enable the service to reach its potential.
The virtual hub should be operational in late March 2020. These changes are all about opening up further the supply chain of food that would otherwise go to waste.
Having more produce available should create greater demand, but that needs managing with the additional volunteers.
This is more than just re-distributing food. It enables initiatives that bring people in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area together, encouraging vulnerable people to socialise, supporting people who are living in poverty and helping people to develop their confidence in cooking, often leading to improved eating habits and diet.