Food Surplus Update January 2023

It’s not the cheeriest time of year so we thought you all might be interested in reading about a visit to two projects which we have been supporting over the past year or so - the Phoenix Food Hub and Whitehawk Community Food Project. Both have difficulty finding volunteers who have transport suitable for collecting surplus from our warehouse so we offered to deliver, giving us a chance to see first-hand what they do.

Phoenix Food Hub have storage space and enough volunteers to pack down or decant our bulk goods with damaged packaging whilst Whitehawk Community Food Project have 20 or so chickens and a very advanced composting system, meaning they can take goods that are not fit for human consumption, so between them we managed to redistribute a large amount of unsaleable food that we sometimes struggle to find a home for.

Our first drop off was to the Phoenix Food Hub which operates a model which is growing in popularity amongst community groups supporting the increasing numbers of those unable to afford to feed themselves and their families. There’s no means testing and members of the scheme contribute a small amount each week and receive a parcel containing a range of food.

When we arrived lots of volunteers from the local area were busy putting together the food parcels for the recipients, A typical bag includes: potatoes, onions and a range of other fruit and vegetables; tinned produce cheese; milk; bread; meat or vegetarian alternatives to meat products; dry goods (e.g. pasta, oats, cereal), coffee, tea, biscuits.

We were dropping off 20 litre tamari sauce with a cracked lid which they will decant into their collection of smaller bottles. We also had 25kg cashews, several cases of short-dated plant milks, jars of tahini, peanut butter and other goods.

As with the other groups that we have long-standing relationships with, the Phoenix Food Hub steers away from the requirements for referrals from official bodies which can be difficult, humiliating or sometimes impossible to obtain, thereby acting as a deterrent to many in need.  Simon, one of the organisers, explained to us how about 50% of their members now consist of the growing numbers of the working poor who cannot afford to meet basic living expenses.

Phoenix Food Hub is looking to expand its support services by offering community cookery classes where skills are shared to help people improve their diet and Breakfast clubs for kids who would otherwise go without.

Next up was a drop off to Whitehawk Community Food Project who had thankfully said ‘yes’ to taking lots of stock which was no longer fit for human consumption to feed their chickens. (They didn’t have a vehicle big enough to collect the 500kg or so of goods we had to offer).

WCFP garden itself is spread over an entire acre, it includes vegetable patches , orchards, beehives, herb gardens , a yurt and a summerhouse. The large chicken coop (which we sponsored the build of last year) houses about 20 majestic looking chickens (no wonder as they are largely fed on Infinity oats and seeds from soiled sacks that would otherwise have gone to biofuel).

WCFP provide gardening courses, social days and a respite space, welcoming all the community. All the food grown is shared. Even on a rainy January morning it’s an amazing space, We asked if infinity might have a social day out there when the weather is better so we may return!

hopefully gives a bit of an insight into how by applying the Infinity founding principles around food and community, along with the workers Cooperative principles, we engage with and support the local community, distributing both the charity fund and our food surplus in a way that reflects both infinity’s founding principles and the workers coop ethos.