Norwich FoodHub

Norwich, Norfolk

Your story

Norwich FoodHub addresses the joint issues of food insecurity and food waste by redistributing surplus produce from retail to local charities.

Group introduction

Many communities in Norwich are acutely affected by issues of poverty. More than 27,000 children were living in poverty in Norfolk in 2015, with over 7,000 of these estimated to be within Norwich. At the same time, Norwich sees around 700 tonnes of food wasted a year, worth over £10,000 a week.

Norwich FoodHub (NFH) was incorporated as a not-for-profit CIC in 2016 by a group of local volunteers to develop innovative, collaborative, and community-focused solutions that could help to alleviate the joint issues of food poverty and wasted food in Norwich and Norfolk. NFH activities are lead, coordinated and carried out by volunteers.

Our team of around 190 registered volunteers and supporters collect every evening from a variety of national and local retail and food industry partners, including Tesco, Waitrose and M&S, alongside a growing network of independent suppliers and local growing schemes, such as Eve’s Hill Community Garden and Norwich Farmshare. All food collected is in-date, but would otherwise be destined for waste for a variety of reasons. Surplus produce is taken to our distribution hub at Cadge Road Community Centre, where it is sorted, weighed and stored. We then redistribute this food to our local partner charities, which work to alleviate the complex socio-economic challenges and other determinants of food poverty.

In this way, NFH supports the valuable work of a wide variety of charities and community groups, including Leeway, Orwell Housing Association, Anon Street Team, Sunday Social, Norwich Foodbank and New Routes. Through these partner organisations, our beneficiaries include a wide range of people affected by food insecurity, including at-risk women and children, the homeless, socially isolated people and recently resettled refugees and migrants.

In addition to these core activities, NFH plans to equip the Cadge Road hub to deliver a pop-up community cafe and pay-as-you-feel market. With funding, these initiatives will provide affordable, healthy food in a community space. They will also create opportunities to give volunteers training and experience in the employable skills of food safety and preparation.

Through these activities, NFH supports long-term alleviators of food poverty and works to deliver solutions to its root causes. Through partnerships with a range of groups and charities, NFH is able to support critical services delivered to some of most vulnerable members of the local local community. Furthermore, by extending capabilities into pop-up food provision, NFH is able to deliver valuable skill-building opportunities incorporated via the community cafe project. In the short- and medium-term, NFH’s work redistributing surplus food can reduce the acute stressors caused by food insecurity, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of produce going to landfill.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

Funding through Grassroots Giving would better equip the Cadge Road hub as a multi-purpose community space, increase our capacity to collect a greater variety of surplus food, and increase our reach into vulnerable communities.

The money would support the capital requirements of the community cafe and supermarket, including food preparation and display resources. By working in partnership with the Norwich Food Alliance, NFH will be able to identify and reach those most in need of assistance in its local community.

The funding would also help build NFH’s capacity to collect, store and redistribute chilled food through the purchase of dedicated transport and monitoring equipment. Doing so would significantly increase the variety and volume of wasted food saved and service that can be supported.A large portion of the food we currently collect is fruit, vegetables and fresh bread. The ability to refrigerate produce at our distribution hub would NFH to expand the range of products we are able to collect, store and make available to our partner charities. Further surplus would also provide fresh produce to facilitate the planned community cafe and market projects.

These projects will make affordable food available in a community space, while providing employability-boosting training and experience to volunteers. The cafe and market will be staffed by volunteers, who will gain valuable experience and training in food safety and preparation, thus equipping them with employable skills. By staffing the cafe and market with local volunteers we hope to foster a sense of community ownership of the project and to inspire and engage local people in tackling the joint issues of food waste and food poverty.

Funding will be used to continue and expand our endeavours to tackle the core issues of food insecurity and food waste, while also addressing employability and community-building. NFH is currently estimated to benefit 300 people a week who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, homeless, or otherwise affected by food insecurity. With funding we will be able to better serve these people, and increase this number via new and expanded collection and front-line service delivery partners

Upon commencing the community cafe and market, we estimate 10 volunteering opportunities will be open to local people, including those with a deficit of employable skills, providing training and work experience opportunities. There is potential for 100 or more cafe and market customers to benefit from access to healthy, low-cost food and a sociable community space.

"“Norwich FoodHub works with a wide range of charities and community groups to make sure that good food - which would otherwise be wasted - is able to get to the people in the community that need it most.
Support from Skiptons Building Society’s Grassroots Giving programme would be invaluable in ensuring that vulnerable people in Norwich are supported and that food reaches bellies not bins.”
Jacob Briggs, Director"

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