Food for Life, Bradford

26 February 2019

February brings the one-year anniversary since FareShare partnered with Asda and the Trussell Trust for Fight Hunger Create Change. Over the course of three years, Asda is providing funding to both charities, enabling them to invest in infrastructure with the aim of lifting 1 million people out of food poverty.

Already the programme is having a huge impact. Asda’s funding enabled our Yorkshire Regional Centre to open a new, larger warehouse in October – twice the size of the previous depot – meaning more charities and people in need are benefitting from surplus food provided by FareShare.

Food for Life, a Bradford food project, is one of these organisations. 148 vulnerable people have signed up to the project since it launched just seven months ago. That number becomes even more staggering when including members’ dependents, with the number of people benefitting rising to 350 – 150 of which are children.

The organisation uses FareShare food in two ways; a food hub where members can access and take home healthy food items at a low cost, as well as Shared Table, a weekly initiative which provides a balanced hot community meal to local people and their families. Both initiatives encourage people to donate what they can afford, which aims to make the experience less stigmatised. A team of amazing volunteers help to run the Hub and Shared Table.

And the need for projects like Food for Life in Bradford has never been higher. Research reveals that over a quarter of households in the city find it difficult or very difficult to cope on their incomes, with almost 30 percent of children living below the poverty line.

The need for projects like Food for Life in Bradford has never been higher. Research reveals that over a quarter of households in the city find it difficult or very difficult to cope on their incomes, with almost 30 percent of children living below the poverty line.

Food for Life became a member of FareShare Yorkshire when it first launched, receiving weekly deliveries of fresh groceries, meat and dairy. It’s also signed up to FareShare Go, which links retailers with local charities and community groups to alert them of when there is in-store surplus food. Organisations then confirm the items they’d like to reserve and pick up in store for free.

Emma Marshall, coordinator of Food for Life, describes FareShare as a “lifeline” for the project. “The food we receive from FareShare Yorkshire and Asda via FareShare Go is just brilliant,” she says. “I think what surprises people most is the range of food we receive – we have received so many different types of cheese many of which many members hadn’t tried before. One time we had duck – we were so excited! And like FareShare we’re keen to make food go as far as possible, so we will use it to make duck wraps for shared table.

“What’s great isn’t just the quality or how healthy the food is, but also the diversity – we’ve had kumquats, wild boar and venison before. Many of our members have complicated and chaotic lives, some with mental health problems and would never ordinarily encounter this food. Many were limited to pasta and tinned sauces before.

“We also pick up surplus food weekly from Asda through FareShare Go. Even though food is nearing the end of its shelf life it’s always really good quality. All the Asda staff are really engaged with the partnership too. They all seem keen and interested and want to hear how the food is helping people.”

Research has found that one in five of FareShare’s charity members would cease to exist without their membership. This is certainly the case for Food for Life. Emma explains: “We’re absolutely reliant on FareShare Yorkshire and FareShare Go. We’d find it impossible to run the project otherwise, especially with the amount of people we’re now supporting.

“Thanks to the FareShare membership, we’re now going to increase our Food Hub opening to twice a week so that we can help more people. At the food hub, last week we had 59 people visit in just two hours – so we know there is a real need and demand for what we’re doing.”

There have been positive changes among Food for Life members too. “Accessing healthy meals each week has meant that many members have grown in confidence,” Emma adds. “They’ve really engaged with the project, learning how to make best use of the food they receive and introducing healthier ingredients in their meals – educating themselves on how to have a more balanced diet.”

“Some members have attended cook and eat sessions, so they can help and learn more about cooking. One member has even created his own recipes using FareShare food, which he’s sharing with other members. It’s a big change from pasta and sauce.”

FareShare Yorkshire previously didn’t have capacity to support Food for Life but thanks to Asda, we are accepting increased volumes of surplus food – which is being diverted to more vulnerable people in need.

Emma says: “It’s incredible what Asda are doing to support FareShare. We saw the previous warehouse and the difference is amazing. The new warehouse has opened up their capacity so much that we’re now receiving a much wider range of food. The Asda and FareShare partnership is making a real difference in our community.”

If you’re a charity and would like to find out more about how to register with FareShare, click here.