We had a really helpful meeting this morning with Claire Dallison. Claire is part of an organisation called Recycling Lives and they operate FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria. It’s a huge patch and they’ve only been operating for 3 weeks, but already have saved many tonnes of food from being wasted and have set up working arrangements with over a dozen charities.
Claire explained how FareShare could link in with our project. FareShare collects food from massive retailer distribution centres (they do not collect at the store level). They also get a lot of food from the gleaning network so there is a good deal of seasonal variation. FareShare take the food to their chilled stores in the Preston warehouse. Charities and community groups sign up with FareShare to become Community Food Members. Members pay a set monthly fee (which supports the operation of FareShare) and in return they receive a set volume of food. As a member, we can specify the type of foods our project needs and the type of foods we would not be able to use. FareShare are looking towards setting up a hub and spoke network for deliveries, but at the moment the requirement would be that we collect trays of food from their Preston base.
Claire says that before she began operating the FareShare branch, she secretly worried that there would not be enough food. She says that is not the problem at all. They have great quantities of food in the warehouse just waiting to be collected: they have everything from fresh okra to tins of ham. Lancaster People’s Cafe could really benefit from this arrangement! We would need to collect weekly in order to access fresh foods, with volunteers preparing food as soon as it arrived and freezing food for the next Cafe. Given the volumes of food available, we can scale up and run Cafe events more frequently! We hope to take our first delivery in time for the November 28th Cafe. Before then, we need to do quite a bit of work in terms of readying our premises and equipment for transport, storage, cooking and chilling. These are exciting times to get on board as a volunteer and the project needs you! So please get in touch to find out more about upcoming plans and how you can get involved.