A new environmental initiative, the Helping Whittlesey Community Pantry, has officially launched this week. It brings together volunteers, local businesses and the wider community to re-distribute food that would otherwise go to waste.
Following on from their successful community Facebook channel set up in 2018, Helping Whittlesey have now become a charitable organisation and their aim is to redistribute surplus food and household items that would otherwise go to landfill, alongside continuing the long standing community support provided through their Facebook page.
The group have been working hard this year to secure and refurbish a central Whittlesey venue, submit grant applications, and put all the policies, training and requirements in place to open a community pantry and fridge which is accessible to all. It is based on the grounds of the Falcon Pub in Whittlesey, and is initially open Thursday’s 11am-12 noon and Sundays 5.30-6.30pm.
Helping Whittlesey have received support from a number of groups including environment and sustainability organisations PPS Independent Consultants and PECT, Fenland District Council, The Peoples Postcode Lottery and Jenner Healthcare. This joined up approach offers a valuable co-ordinated resource to the community.
Chair of Helping Whittlesey Anna Foster said, ‘We are dedicated to making a positive impact on our local environment and society. The pantry is inclusive to all in the local community and food that is perfectly usable will be available. All the food is free, and a voluntary donation can be given to help with running costs. We have been running pop up sessions the last couple of weeks and all the surplus food we have collected has been taken which really proves the potential. We have had so much love and support from the public and I know this will carry on being a huge success.’
She added that ‘we encourage as many local residents to use the service as possible to ensure that no food goes to waste. To help with running costs a voluntary donation can be given. Furthermore, this is just phase 1 of the plan with more exciting developments to come.’
Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough who is supportive of the Helping Whittlesey activities stated that, ‘Food waste is recognised as a key environmental issue nationally so it is great to see this new local initiative that will rescue perfectly good surplus food from going in the bin, and get it re-distributed into the local community. I wish Helping Whittlesey and the growing network of food waste prevention initiatives across Cambridgeshire every success.’
Earlier this month, the latest annual report on UK surplus food showed approximately 170,000 tonnes of surplus food was received by UK redistribution organisations in 2022 equating to just over 400 million meals with a value of more than £590 million .