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Cambridge City Foodbank announces Fairbite Food Club

24th April 2018

New centre will help people facing hunger access excess supermarket food

Cambridge City Foodbank is opening Fairbite, a new food club, to supply food that would otherwise go to waste to local people struggling to feed themselves and their families.
Located in North Cambridge’s Arbury Court, Fairbite will operate as a food club. Although it will look like a food shop, people will be able to collect food for free once they have paid a small membership fee. Cambridge City Foodbank plans to open Fairbite in June 2018.

Across the UK, around 250,000 tons of food a year are thrown away by supermarkets. At the same time, many people find themselves facing hunger because they do not have the money to feed themselves and their families.

In the twelve months from April 2017 – March 2018 Cambridge City Foodbank provided 2,991 food boxes feeding 6,904 Cambridge residents. This is an increase of 25% compared to the same period a year earlier. There are many more on the edge, struggling to afford the everyday food they need without visiting the Foodbank.

As a response to this situation, Fairbite will provide access to food that would otherwise go to waste. Fairbite will operate separately from the Foodbank and visiting Fairbite will be just like going to a small local shop. Members will be able to select their own food from the shelves – the only difference being that they will not have to pay for the items on the way out.

Members can choose 10 basic items and visit once or twice a week depending on family size. In season there will also be free fruit and vegetables donated by local gardeners and allotment holders. Membership will cost £2 per week or £4 for a large family.

Fairbite will be supplied by the help of FareShare, a national charity tackling food waste and supporting local charities with food supplies, with initial running costs coming from Cambridge City Foodbank. Initially Fairbite will be open two days a week – once during the day and once in the evening. In time, Fairbite will be open each week day.

Jon Edney, Project Coordinator for Cambridge City Foodbank says: “Fairbite is a response to the rising number of people we see coming to foodbanks who are hungry. We want to help people avoid getting to the point where they need to come to the foodbank by giving them another way to put food on the table and reduce their weekly bills. Our aim is to help people, but the fact that the food we’ll provide would otherwise be thrown away is a huge win.

The cost of living is high in Cambridge, so this is one way that we can make a difference. Cambridge is the most unequal city in the UK and we’d love to change that. We hope to engage the whole community around Arbury and King’s Hedges to support Fairbite through volunteering and helping with operations. We see this as a way of bringing the community together.

According to Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and Patron of the Foodbank: “This new initiative is a major step forward in providing practical assistance to people facing hardship in our city. It will enable those who are anxious about feeding their families to access food in a way that gives them some choice and dignity; and it addresses the scandal of throwing away good food that could be put to good use. The Cambridge City Foodbank has again shown its commitment to tackling the pressures currently loaded onto vulnerable people in our society, and promises hope to those who often feel crushed by these pressures.

Jo Hunt, Manager of the Kings Hedges Family Support Project says:

For some of our families accessing Cambridge City Foodbank is a lifeline in times of crisis. When difficult financial decisions have to be made a referral to Foodbank means that the stress and worry of ensuring the family is fed is reduced. The Fairbite food club is an invaluable addition to this service and potentially work in a preventative way. Many of our families are ‘on the edge’ – they are finding that they are struggling in ways they never thought they would as the cost of living increases in Cambridge. Allowing an affordable way of accessing food and providing opportunities for choice based on children’s likes and dislikes will be empowering for so many, helping to build confidence within families and the community as a whole.

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