Holly, the Food Link Manager and I had a great meeting on the 19th June with Laurel and David from the Food in Community CIC. This is a not for profit community interest company with charitable aims and has been set up to collect and redistribute fresh organic and locally grown fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted, to local charitable organisations that use food in an educational, nutritious or therapeutic way.
Here’s the story in their words:
Fifty Shades of Grade Out
Six months ago we emailed Guy Watson with an idea. He invited us for lunch. We were terrified and excited. Terrified because he'd just won Farmer of the Year, and we knew next to nothing about farming or business, excited because he'd responded to our email!
We asked him if we might do a second harvest, or gleaning, on the farm and redistribute the vegetables where there was a need. Guy's response, apart from showing us round, introducing us to his floor manager and chef, was to offer us fruit and vegetables that don't quite make the grade for the Veg Boxes. This grade out, which is used to supply his staff with fresh fruit and vegetables, feed them two meals a day, and also supply a local primary school with school dinners, also often ends up being fed to the cows or composted. "It’s either feast or famine" said the boss, "but I hate to see perfectly good veg going to waste."
From that generous offer, ten projects have now been supplied with fresh free organic fruit and vegetables every week since the beginning of January. Over 5000 kilos of produce have been collected, and an estimated 4000 meals cooked. The floor managers make sure that there are several crates of grade out vegetables ready for us to sort out and deliver. Some of our volunteers say it’s like Christmas every week! The projects are local, benefit small children, young mums, the homeless, folks living with mental health issues, offenders, people in drug and alcohol recovery, and all of them use the fresh produce as an integral part of their work with vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our community. Having the vegetables encourages people to learn to cook, share meals, join in, eat well or sometimes, just eat. With the vegetables our local children's centre have started a Soup Cooking session with families after school - last week, there were thirty all cooking and eating together. We are teaming up with local health providers to teach people how to cook great meals from scratch.
We decided to begin a social enterprise, "Food in Community CIC" to keep on making use of all of these vegetables, and when the season begins, go gleaning too. Watch this space! We have plans!
It would not have got off the ground without the fantastic support from Riverford Organic Farms which have made available the "graded out" organic fruit and vegetables from their national veg box scheme. Food in Community CIC have been supported by donations from the Plunkett Foundation under the Making Local Food work scheme, the Paige Adams Trust, local town councillors Alan Gorman, Jacqi Hodgson, Judy Westacott, Robert Vint, and ex Devon County Councillor Paula Black.
For more info see www.facebook.com/FoodinCommunityCIC
email: Foodincommunity@gmail.com, or phone: 07846021248