Leicester community project able to help more people than ever thanks to ground-breaking project
A vital community project in Leicester has revealed the impact that a ground-breaking Co-op food redistribution scheme has had for its users.
E2, based in Beaumont Leys, operates a special food hub to help people across the community in need of a little extra support.
This service is now able to help more people than ever after becoming one of over 250 community groups and charities to be supported by a partnership between Central England Co-op and FareShare.
The ground-breaking project sees best before food items and non-food goods that cannot be sold collected by colleagues from the Society’s Food Distribution Centre, in Leicester, and then delivered to FareShare to send out across the Midlands.
E2 receives over 2,000kgs of food a month which allows it to make nearly 5,000 meals – something that would have cost them £3,200 if they had to pay for all the food needed.
Richard Sturgess, Food Redistribution Co-ordinator for Central England co-operative, said: “E2 is a perfect example of the type of causes we want to support with our pioneering scheme.
“It helps people in need in the local community and allows us to ensure we are not just reducing waste but, most importantly, quickly getting those goods to those who need them.”
Those involved in the food redistribution project are predicting that the scheme will help cut food waste by at least 40% and provide over one million meals per year to vulnerable people.
The long-term goal is to see 100 % of best before goods that have not been sold not wasted and instead redistributed and put to use by good causes.
FareShare East Midlands’ Director Simone Connolly said: ““While we acknowledge that we’re not able to lift people out of poverty, we can ensure that good food isn’t wasted when there is a real need for it thanks to this ground-breaking partnership with Central England Co-op.”
The E2 food hub runs every Friday between 11am and 2pm and now helps over 40 families per week.
The project is also unique in the fact that is it organised like a small shop with shelving, fridges and freezers and users select items as they would in any other shop in an effort to alleviate some of the nervousness of users accessing food support.
Service user David Jennings, of Beaumont Leys, said: “It’s helped me no end. I’ve been coming for the past three or four months and having this has about saved my life.”
Sarah-Jayne Grant lives with her partner and toddler Matthew in Beaumont Leys and said the service had really helped.
She said: “We found out about it through word of mouth. It does help out a lot especially like when our washing machine broke and that means you’re spending money on that and you still have food to buy. Having this here has been great.”
Martin Buchanan, chief executive of the E2, said: “The food hub is currently distributing around 2,000 kgs of food per week and has plans to open another day a week to keep up with demand – something which would not happen without Fareshare and especially Central England Co-op.”
Notes to editors
Picture caption: Volunteers from E2 sort through food donated as part of the ground-breaking project between Central England Co-operative and FareShare East Midlands.
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK.
It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.
Central England Co-operative has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.
Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility. It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence. The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.
Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to member activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.
For more information visit www.centralengland.coop, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook: facebook.com/centralenglandcooperative
Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390