Photo Credit: David in the cab of the foodshare van outside The Bishop's Palace, Hereford
A local Herefordshire church has found a way to help people live more sustainably, offering a food share and helping reduce local supermarkets' food waste in Hereford.
The environment is a hot topic, and reducing waste is one of the key ways people can establish change. But the challenge for many, especially those on lower incomes, comes from increased fuel and food costs. It is often cheaper to buy less sustainable products, and more affordable food is often unhealthy. In addition, some households are making stark choices between eating or heating. All this is against a backdrop in which UK food business waste 300,000 tonnes of edible food each year and food waste as a whole contributes 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas
David Bland, Intergenerational Missioner in South Wye, coordinates collection efforts across Hereford city centre, gathering unused fresh and chilled food supplies from local supermarkets and providing three food shares each week across South Hereford.
He got involved for very personal reasons: He and his family see reducing their food waste as an extension of practically living out their Christian faith in a way that he hopes inspires others.
During the lockdown, he noticed that many supermarkets were disposing of fresh food every day. He was deeply shocked to see delicious products simply going in the dustbin because they had not been sold. He was simultaneously aware of the growing community needs of families and individuals struggling to afford food due to financial circumstances.
"It began with collecting and distributing a couple of trays of fresh eggs in the summer of 2020 and has rapidly grown into a food share three times a week.
"The food share is slightly different to food banks because it is open to absolutely anyone whether they are facing a crisis or not. We don't ask any questions about their circumstances and what we have to offer varies from week to week. While foodbanks give people enough food to meet needs for a few days in a crises, the food share is a top up to any food they purchase that helps out lots of people.
"We see it as a way to bless our local community."
David adds: "I am often asked why I'm doing all this; quite simply, it's part of how I live as a Christian. The question gives me a gentle way to open up a deeper conversation and has led to me getting to know people a little better and being able to invite them to other things we're doing at St Martin's that might be of interest to them."
The project has caught the attention of other local groups and the civic authorities who have recently funded the purchase of a van that David is using to collect fresh and chilled produce from local supermarkets.
St Martin’s FoodShare is one of a network of organisations collecting and sharing surplus food across the city, but there are still some days when food goes un-collected.
David is currently looking for more volunteers to drive the van throughout the week and at weekends. If you would like to volunteer as a driver or to support this project in any way, please get in touch with David via his email: David.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him on: 07563382872