The pandemic has led to a huge increase in household food insecurity, with more people accessing food support than ever before in Lancaster District.
In response, local organisations and communities from across the District have massively increased their capacity to provide support.
Food banks, food clubs and community projects are working closely together through the Lancaster District Food Poverty Alliance (LDFPA), which is part of our local Sustainable Food Places Partnership: FoodFutures. This partnership has been awarded a £30,000 grant from Sustainable Food Places to support Eggcup (an LDFPA and FoodFutures member) in taking forwards a new initiative to increase the flow of surplus food into our district’s food support network.
Access to quality, fresh food is a key challenge for supporting greater numbers of households locally.
Eggcup is Lancaster District’s surplus food depot – working to intercept food that might otherwise go to waste from supermarkets, national distributors and from local food businesses. They offer its members access to more affordable food to supplement the weekly shop whilst at the same time reducing the amount of food going to waste.
Despite efforts of organisations such as Eggcup and other community run food clubs across the District, a vast amount of food still gets wasted.
Hundreds of food businesses locally, including large producers and manufacturers, are not currently redistributing their surplus food because there is no viable option. Much of this untapped food needs processing to make it accessible to households. For instance, Eggcup was given two pallets of flour packed in 16kg bags at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, when commercial bakeries servicing catering and hospitality closed or reduced capacity. Hundreds of kilos of flour had to be repackaged into sizes households could use.
There are also issues with logistics. Much of the surplus food currently accessed comes through the redistribution provider (Fareshare) and is primarily obtained from national scale supermarkets and food businesses. This needs to be complemented with regional redistribution networks that are accessible to smaller scale, local food businesses. This requires coordinated transport, storage and distribution which Eggcup’s professional distribution hub is well placed to provide.
The funding boost from Sustainable Food Places will therefore enable Eggcup to overcome its key challenges to accessing more local, surplus food.