A new food distribution initiative has launched in Bicester that will see waste from supermarkets and local retailers cut down and offered to the community free of charge.
Statistics show that, with energy and fuel prices soaring, nearly half of Brits are having to make cuts to their food budget, whilst, at the same time, huge amounts of fresh produce is thrown away every day by supermarkets and food retail. The needless waste has inspired communities across the country to put leftover food to good use and help people to feed their families for less.
The Bicester Community Hub was set up earlier this year in partnership with Hope Church to prevent fresh food and produce approaching the end of their shelf life from going in the bin. Held at Perch Coworking at the Eco Business Centre on Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings, the Hub is a walk-in ‘shop’ where attendees can browse the selection and take a range of donated food products for free.
Since it started in May, organisers have found that the anti-waste project has played an unprecedented role in supporting those hit hardest by the rising cost of living.
Kelly Catanzaro, Bicester Community Hub’s Project Lead, said: “When we initially planned to launch the Hub with sustainability goals in mind, we had no idea just how much of an impact it would have on the local community economically. It has been a lifeline for some, not only because it’s helped them to put food on the table, but because the social interaction and one-to-one support they’re getting has offered much-needed respite from busy everyday life.”
“We really emphasise the community element of it because it’s important to us that the people who come and use the Hub feel comfortable with the team and enjoy being here too. We’re not a food bank, but if people can use the service to counteract rising energy bills and fuel costs, we want to ensure we’re in a position to signpost anyone in need to support services that may be able to give some extra help.
“Whether it’s bits for lunch the next day, or ingredients for their evening meal, we encourage Hub users to take only what they need so that as many members of the community can benefit from what’s on offer, and this has helped us to reach lots of people already. Now more than ever, we can’t afford to let good food go to waste, and we hope the Hub will inspire Bicester people to think more about waste in their own lives and strive for a more sustainable way of living going forward.”
Perch Coworking is no stranger to doing its bit for the environment and the local community – operated by B Corp Town Square Spaces Ltd. (TownSq), the space is aligned with objectives to deliver benefits to Bicester people and its economy as sustainably as possible.
Its base, the Eco Business Centre, is the first non-domestic property in the UK to achieve the Passivhaus Plus standard for energy efficiency, meaning it is carbon neutral and self-sufficient.
Lucy Wendon, Community Manager at Perch, said that the Hub was perfectly placed at the site: “When we were approached with the opportunity to host the initiative in our space, we knew it was something we wanted to be involved in.”
“The project completely aligns with our ethos of sustainability and taking responsibility when it comes to looking after our planet and environment, so we’re proud to be playing a role in cutting down food waste in Bicester – and with the current price hikes, this couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“We want to do everything we can to help people manage their living costs. One way we can do that is to encourage local home workers and entrepreneurs to consider working in our coworking space, which will help them save on their home energy bills. As a Passivhaus Plus building, much of the energy we use is self-generated, so, just by walking through our doors, people are taking a step in a more sustainable direction.”
“We’d encourage anyone in Bicester to come along, save some great quality food from going to waste and find out a little more about how the Hub can help you cut the cost of your lunch.”
Bicester Community Hub is held at Perch Coworking at the Eco Business Centre on Charlotte Avenue on Wednesdays between 17:30 and 18:30, and Fridays between 10:30-12:00.
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