New food waste initiative in Bicester is lifeline for customers

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A new food distribution initiative has launched that will see waste from supermarkets and retailers cut down and offered to the community free of charge.

The Bicester Community Hub was set up earlier this year in partnership with Hope Church to prevent fresh food and produce approaching the end of their shelf life from going to waste.

Held at Perch Coworking at the Eco Business Centre on Wednesday evening and Friday morning, the hub is a walk-in ‘shop’ where attendees can browse the selection and take a range of donated food products for free.

Since it started in May, organisers have found the anti-waste projects has played an unprecedented role in supporting those hit hardest by the rising cost of living.

Bicester Community Hub’s Project Lead Kelly Catanzaro said: “When we initially planned to launch the hub with sustainability goals in mind, we had no idea just how much of an impact it would have on the local community economically.

Read more: Workers in Cherwell have suffered reduction in real wages

“It has been a lifeline for some, not only because it’s helped them to put food on the table, but because the social interaction and one-to-one support they’re getting has offered much-needed respite from busy everyday life.

“We really emphasise the community element of it because it’s important to us that the people who come and use the hub feel comfortable with the team and enjoy being here too.

“We’re not a food bank, but if people can use the service to counteract rising energy bills and fuel costs, we want to ensure we’re in a position to signpost anyone in need to support services that may be able to give some extra help.

“Whether it’s bits for lunch the next day, or ingredients for their evening meal, we encourage hub users to take only what they need so that as many members of the community can benefit from what’s on offer, and this has helped us to reach lots of people already.”

Perch Coworking is no stranger to doing its bit for the environment and the local community – operated by B Corp Town Square Spaces Ltd, the space is aligned with objectives to deliver benefits to Bicester people and its economy as sustainably as possible.

Its base, the Eco Business Centre, is the first non-domestic property in the UK to achieve the Passivhaus Plus standard for energy efficiency, meaning it is carbon neutral and self-sufficient.

Community Manager at Perch Lucy Wendon said: “When we were approached with the opportunity to host the initiative in our space, we knew it was something we wanted to be involved in.

“The project completely aligns with out ethos of sustainability and taking responsibility when it comes to looking after our planet and environment.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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