13 members met via Zoom for the final monthly meeting of 2020 – 2021 of Laurencekirk and District Inner Wheel.
President Frances Wallace welcomed members and guest speaker Graeme Hooper from Aberdeenshire Council Community Development Team.
As the Inner Wheel had donated some of their charity money this year to Local Food Larders it was appropriate that Graeme should speak to the club, providing an overview of the successes and challenges of the Larders in the Mearns and how our donation had benefitted the community.
The Community Larder initiative began in 2018 linked to Fare Share and CFINE – Community Food Initiatives North East as an Eco Model.
FareShare is the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, made up of 18 independent organisations. Together, they take good quality surplus food from right across the food industry and get it to almost 11,000 frontline charities and community groups. The food they redistribute is nutritious and good to eat. It reaches charities across the UK, including school breakfast clubs, older people’s lunch clubs, homeless shelters, and community cafes. Every week they provide enough food to create almost a million meals for vulnerable people.
More information can be found on their website: https://fareshare.org.uk/
In the Mearns – Fare Share allocate 2 pallets of food for distribution from the Venue in Laurencekirk. These come from major stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and M&S.
CFINE improves health and well-being and the environment, tackles poverty and builds resilience through a range of support and services for and with disadvantaged, vulnerable, low-income individuals, families and communities in NE Scotland.
Based in Aberdeen in Poynernook Road, more information about the amazing work of the charity can be found on their website: https://www.cfine.org
Graeme is based in Stonehaven and has been involved in supporting the Local Larders. At the start of Covid in 2020 the applications to the Community Food Fund were mainly for food, toiletries and cleaning products.
There is no qualification needed to use the Larders and they have not been abused. Volunteers help run the larders, apart from The Haven in Stonehaven who have a paid employee. Many are run by people who want to give something back to the community.
In Stonehaven the Haven uses a Pay it Forward Model where users pay £15 per year and can buy 20 items for £2 at each visit.
Previously these Larders were used by mainly older people but since COVID there has been a massive uptake by families.
Graeme is predicting that with furlough finishing in September there might be a surge in uptake again. It is hoped that these Larders will be sustainable for the foreseeable future.
The Co-op in particular have been very supportive, providing bags so that there is no stigma with shopping obtained at the Larders. Luthermuir cook and sell meals and it is hoped that Fettercairn will be supported in establishing an Allotment. Auchenblae, however will close at the end of the month.
Each larder was given £2000 from Aberdeenshire Council initially. The promise of Government Funding to support the Larders has, as yet not been forthcoming.
Frances Wallace thanked the speaker for his very interesting and informative talk.
Sylvia Cartwright and Marion Robson both thanked Frances for her two years in office.
The club resume again in September although they will keep in contact with fortnightly Zoom Coffee Mornings throughout the Summer.