Blackpool Food Partnership is now collecting fresh fruit and vegetables for the first time and distributing it out to 38 organisations across Blackpool, including children’s centres, hostels, community kitchens and out with food parcels. This has been made possible through a partnership with OCS, which has donated equipment and consultancy services for storing fresh foods.
The Blackpool Food Partnership now has five fridges and flying insect prevention equipment to help store surplus fruit and veg. Nikki Hart, the charity’s manager, says: “We can now collect fruit and vegetables from our new store partners, My Local and Morrison’s, as well as our existing partners Sainsbury’s and Booths. We can also receive food from local farms.”
The organisation has also received support from the OCS Family Foundation for training volunteers in food hygiene and providing additional equipment to meet the increasing demand.
Michael Buck, general manager for OCS said: “This organisation is meeting a vital need in the local area and, as a family organisation committed to making a difference to the communities in which it works, OCS is delighted to put our experience and expertise to good use to support this.”
Hart explained: “For the first time we are able to offer families and single people fresh fruit and vegetables. We have started training volunteers in the community to teach people to cook, with the help of the Blackpool Council’s Wellness Service, and now they will be able to use the vegetables to show people how to cook cheap and healthy meals. We know many people survive on pre-packed meals which are expensive and we are delighted that our partner organisations will be able to teach people to cook cheaper and healthier meals.”
The fridges increase the shelf life of surplus vegetables, which would go into landfill or fuel. But Nikki comments that: “the most economical and sustainable use of surplus food is in someone’s belly. The new benefit cuts are likely to have a significant impact on the need for food, so to be able to expand the amount and range of food that we can take is very timely.”
It is hoped that children’s centres will be able to use the fresh fruit for smoothies, healthy snacks, as well as it being distributed out to families in need.
If you own an allotment or have fruit trees in your garden, the Blackpool Food Partnership will now be able to receive surplus vegetables and fruit. Get in touch with Su on 07780 007 563 to drop your spare veg off.