A food distribution centre delivering essential supplies to local foodbanks and groups in the North East has been able to move to a bigger site and install storage for chilled and frozen food thanks to funding from the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change programme.
Staff at the nearby Byker Community Centre use the food from the FareShare depot to make free meals for people who need them – and they say it’s “life-changing” for these people.
Our Byker store's community champion Ashleigh Longstaff went along to lend a hand and find out more as they received their latest delivery.
Ashleigh said: "The centre are brilliant for this area – there's a real sense of community spirit when you visit.
"They're very focused on encouraging people to eat healthily, especially children.
"They rely very heavily on donations so the FareShare link is fantastic for them.
"It was great to spend time with Aly and the team, and we're hoping to support them with Asda Foundation funding next year."
The centre's development manager Aly Smith said: "The majority of food we receive is from FareShare and it's life-changing for people – you can't underestimate the impact this food has on the community.
"We host lots of community groups although we also implement many activities ourselves. Since the rollout of Universal Credit, we've been doing a lot more work around food insecurity.
"I really don't know how people in the community survived before all of these food projects appeared. We have grown men coming in crying because they can't feed their families, and 52% of children on our estate live in poverty.
"Food waste is just unforgivable and we're so grateful to Asda for their support – we really, really need that support.
"On Mondays we have the lovely volunteers from the FoodCycle team in who cook and serve a free three-course vegetarian meal from surplus food from supermarkets. On Friday evenings we have the Magic Hat Cafe who are similar, upcycling surplus food.
"The rest of the food goes to other activities throughout the week – on Tuesdays we have two local ladies who come in and cook meals for local schoolchildren.
"The range of food we receive is fantastic and really helps all of these groups prepare and serve healthy, nutritious meals."
Jake Hanmore, development manager for FareShare in the North East, said: "Thanks to Asda’s support, we have managed to relocate to new, larger premises as well as install new, much larger chillers and freezers. With more space, we’ll be able to accept more surplus food into our regional centre, saving it from waste and making sure it gets to those who need it.
"This significantly expanded capacity will be vital in growing our impact over the next three years so that we can support even more charities like Byker Community Centre – and we know there are many more organisations who need our support across the north east.
"Over the next year alone, we’re aiming to recruit a minimum of 30 new frontline charities, which means we’ll be able to feed an estimated 3,200 vulnerable people experiencing food insecurity each week – almost a third more than we currently feed per week.
"This level of funding to tackle food poverty is unprecedented, so to have Asda supporting and investing in our cause really makes a huge difference. Working with Asda, we hope to make a real lasting change to help thousands more people out of food poverty across Newcastle upon Tyne and the wider region."
It's one of the hundreds of initiatives across the country being helped by the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change programme, which is donating £20 million to FareShare and The Trussell Trust over the next three years.