Thirteen funding to help tackle Teesside food waste

Thirteen has provided £10,000 to help with the regional fight against food waste.

Eco Shop Channel

22 Apr 2021

The housing provider’s community fund awarded the money to Middlesbrough Environment City and FareShare North East to help create a food hub that will distribute hundreds of tonnes of food to local Eco Shops and other affordable food providers.

The hub will receive surplus food from a range of sources – including farms, shops and supermarkets – and distribute it to Eco Shops in communities across Middlesbrough and the wider Tees Valley.

Local people will then be able to visit the shops to buy good quality food for a low cost – around £2 for 10 items of food.

Jim Scollen is one of Thirteen’s involved customers and leads the community fund panel. He said: “As a panel, we thought this was a very worthwhile project to help fund.

“Around a third of the food that we produce is thrown away which puts even greater strain on our environment. And when there are people who could really benefit from saving money on their weekly food shop, this really doesn’t make much sense.

“By funding this project we’re hoping to address a whole range of problems. It will reduce the amount of food that is thrown away and help to reduce food costs for many families, which will help our customers and other local people to make their money go further.

“We could see how the food hub has the potential to bring some much-needed relief to the people of Teesside in these troubled times, so we’re happy to be involved.”

Alongside the funding, Thirteen has also provided temporary premises in the Berwick Hills area of Middlesbrough to store food for distribution to Eco Shops in the local community.

The empty building also acted as a virtual Eco Shop, enabling food to be delivered direct to people’s homes while other Eco Shops were closed during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Joe Dunne, Middlesbrough Food Partnership Co-ordinator at Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “It’s fantastic that Thirteen has given us this funding as it’ll be used to finance essential building adaptations at the food hub in central Middlesbrough.

“This will include welfare and handwashing facilities for people working at the hub, as well as charging points for forklift trucks and other equipment used on-site. All of this will help ultimately help us to reduce food waste and provide people in our communities with access to high-quality food at an affordable price.

“We estimate that the hub will eventually supply around 200 groups throughout the Tees Valley, providing up to 5,000 people a week with good value, wholesome food while at the same tackling a serious environmental issue.”

Lyndsey Coe, from Thirteen’s community resilience team, helped Middlesbrough Environment City with the funding application. Lyndsey said: “Thirteen analysed how much people could save by buying the same items from an Eco Shop against buying from a supermarket, and we found that people could save an average of £5 to £10 per shop.

“Not only will this put more money back into people’s pockets, this project will be a sustainable solution to tackling both the environmental food waste issue and supporting families to access quality food at a low cost. The food hub and Eco Shops will provide a huge practical benefit to Thirteen’s customers and other residents throughout the region.”

Other organisations involved in the development of the food hub include the Teesside Philanthropic Society and the MFC Foundation.

As well as the food hub, there are plans to develop a website that will help groups to set up their own Eco Shop and share knowledge, ideas and foods to meet specific communities’ needs.

It’s hoped that once its new premises have been identified, the hub will be up and running in late spring.

Anyone who would like more information about the food hub or creating an Eco Shop can contact joe.dunne@menvcity.org.uk.

For details about Thirteen’s community projects or to share details about your own project, email community.resilience@thirteengroup.co.uk