Surplus food hub calls for support as supply drops

A trolley with boxes of food being handed over by two supermarket staff and Kelly Brown and Trisha Bennett Image source, WCDA
Image caption,

Staff from a local supermarket handing over donations to Kelly Brown, community development worker, and Trisha Bennett

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A charity that distributes surplus food to hundreds of people every month has said it needs more support because its supply has fallen by nearly 50% over a year.

Trisha Bennett, who runs the project from the South Reading Community Hub, said demand has increased at the same time.

The initiative collects surplus food from partners, including major retailers like Brakes, Greggs and Marks & Spencer, but Ms Bennett said the cost of living has had an impact on how much companies are giving away.

Recipients are not means tested before they can collect food but, because of supply issues, the project has had to limit the amount it can give out.

Ms Bennett said: “While our stocks have been cut by 50%, the need has risen by 50%. Quite often, we would have a lot and we would say, ‘take as much as you want’.

“Now we are having to say we are open five days a week, please only take what you need today and come back tomorrow. We can’t let people take as much as they would like every day," she said.

"By the time you get half way through the queue, there’s often nothing left.”

The Whitley Community Development Association project is open at the hub in Northumberland Avenue from 10:00 until 13:00 BST, Monday to Friday.

A community supermarket, where people can buy five items for £2, also operates at the site.

“[People] have a sort of stereotypical perception of the people who would use it – people on benefits, people who you would expect," Ms Bennett said.

“It’s midwives, it’s people working part-time, people who maybe have a problem with their work… people who haven’t got statutory sick pay. There are asylum seekers, people who have lived in Whitley all their lives – everyone.”