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Hereford congregation distributes unwanted food

18 March 2022

Diocese of Hereford

David Bland in the cab of the FoodShare van outside the Bishop’s Palace, Hereford

David Bland in the cab of the FoodShare van outside the Bishop’s Palace, Hereford

A CHURCH in Hereford has launched a scheme to distribute unwanted food to people struggling with rising prices and to encourage them to live more sustainably.

The intergenerational missioner in South Wye, David Bland, based at St Martin’s in the city, co-ordinates collections of fresh and chilled food from supermarkets to provide weekly handouts in south Hereford.

He said that he became involved during lockdown in 2020, because he and his family were shocked to see unsold produce thrown away as people struggled to afford food. The family also saw reducing food waste as a practical way of living out their Christian faith.

St Martin’s FoodShare is one of a network of organisations sharing surplus food in the city. “It began with collecting and distributing a couple of trays of fresh eggs, and has rapidly grown into a food share three times a week,” Mr Bland said. The local authority in Hereford recently stepped in to buy a van for him to collect produce from supermarkets. He is now looking for volunteers to drive the van at evenings and weekends.

“FoodShare is slightly different to foodbanks, because it is open to absolutely anyone, whether they are facing a crisis or not,” he said. “We don’t ask any questions about their circumstances, and what we have to offer varies from week to week. While foodbanks give people enough food to meet needs for a few days in a crisis, the FoodShare is a top-up to any food they purchase that helps out lots of people. We see it as a way to bless our local community.

“I am often asked why I’m doing all this; quite simply, it’s part of how I live as a Christian. The question gives me a gentle way to open up a deeper conversation, and has led to me getting to know people a little better and being able to invite them to other things we’re doing at St Martin’s that might be of interest to them.”

According to the sustainability charity Waste and Resources Action Programme, each year UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food — enough to fill Wembley Stadium eight times over. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization calculates that the world wastes 1.3 billion tonnes of food annually — one third of all food produced for human consumption — and contributes 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas.


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