14 December 2021
Founder, Hannah Reay, describes The Pickle Palace as a community-based organisation that also wants to save the planet. “We’re trying to stop food from going to waste, it’s our duty to eat this food and not throw it away; we owe it to the farmers who have spent their time to grow it.”
Situated in Greenside, Tyne and Wear, mum of two Hannah started creating pickles and jams when she was a primary school teacher. “We had a school scheme whereby the kids were getting free fruit and some was going to waste. I thought ‘I’m not having that!’ From there, I became obsessed with not wasting food.”
Hannah applied to the School of Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) four years ago, and received a grant for £4,000 and 15 training sessions to launch her new food waste enterprise.
Hannah began by rescuing food from people’s allotments, speaking to local supermarkets and through this discovered FareShare Go. Since then, The Pickle Palace’s activity has continued to grow: “We now get 1.5 tonnes of food a week from multiple places and we’ve really expanded; by just being in the community it has evolved organically.”
Alongside selling pickles and jams, Hannah works in the community to deliver workshops to local school children. The Pickle Palace also hosts food markets for those facing food insecurity in the community, helping over 350 people a week. “These are small mining villages, there’s a lot of economic deprivation, they’ve just been isolated and many have to go without. We lay the food out and make it look lovely and it’s open to anybody, we don’t have any restrictions, we don’t have requirements, there’s no obligation to pay. People who can pay will pay more and that subsidises others who can’t afford it.”
During the pandemic, The Pickle Palace had to change their tactics to continue to save food and get it to people in need. They created emergency food parcels with the help of mutual aid groups and local volunteers, delivering over 3,000 parcels during lockdowns 1 and 2 and was funded for the first 3 months by the local community.
The team at The Pickle Palace has been using FareShare Go to receive surplus food from local supermarkets, including Asda. “The parcels were fantastic; we were just packing everything we’d got from the supermarket. And because of Asda people are trying new food, one of our members had never tried avocado before and one of our volunteers suggested having it on toast, with a fried egg on top and now she loves it!”
According to The Pickle Palace, since starting four years ago they’ve rescued over 274 tonnes of surplus food (which equates to over half a million meals). “The cost of fuel is astronomical and with the Universal Credit uplift ending, it’s hard – everything has gone up. To be able to help people in a small way by reducing their food bill, that’s really important to us.”