A call has gone out to find a suitable Teesside property for a distribution centre to provide affordable food to families affected by Covid-19 following a £30,000 charity donation.
The Teesside-based Food Hub will be run by Middlesbrough Environment City and FareShare NE following one of the biggest single donations ever made by charity Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
Plans are being made to create a financially sustainable food redistribution hub to increase access to affordable, healthy food to struggling families across the Tees Valley during Covid-19 and beyond.
The Food Hub will enable the daily delivery of a wide range of ambient, fresh, chilled and frozen food to a myriad of projects and initiatives providing low-cost and free food, including Eco Shops, community cafes, ‘soup kitchens’, breakfast clubs and Holiday Hunger programmes such as Feast of Fun.
Thanks to a further £20,000 donation from MFC Foundation, it is hoped the Food Hub will eventually feature a space for healthy and sustainable cooking classes and a community café.
Now the search is on to find suitable premises for a distribution centre of approximately 4,000 sq ft with vehicular access and on a main bus route to allow easy access for volunteers and potentially apprentices.
A temporary distribution centre is currently being run from facilities kindly provided at Teesport by Middlesbrough firm PD Ports but a permanent base will allow the food hub to flourish within the community and end the need to transport supplies from Newcastle.
FareShare NE utilises high-quality surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill, redistributing it across the North East including 45 Teesside organisations in Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton, Billingham and Hartlepool plus 18 more in the Darlington area.
Ian Stark, a trustee of Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, said: “We’ve been hugely impressed with the work carried out by FareShare NE and Environment City.
“So we are over the moon to be lead funder for the Teesside-based Food Hub, a much-needed facility that will be of huge benefit to struggling families across the area in the efficient provision of surplus food.
“Marcus Rashford has done a fantastic job in raising the profile of this important issue as it’s clearly not acceptable in 2021 that families are struggling to feed their children on Teesside and across the UK.
“I’m personally delighted that separate charities are joining forces to act as a powerful force for good on Teesside.
“We look forward to creating a sustainable solution in providing affordable food to people via the magnificent work of projects like foodbanks, Eco Shops and community facilities run by the likes of the Moses Project in Stockton and Middlesbrough Sikh Temple.”
Joe Dunne, Middlesbrough food partnership coordinator at Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “We’ve been on a long journey since identifying the real need for a hub on Teesside. This project is all about improving access to good quality affordable food for all.
Jake Hanmore, chief executive of FareShare NE, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news! We’ve been looking to bring FareShare to Teesside for two years and this donation means we can do that now.
“Until now we’ve been supporting the Tees region from our Newcastle regional centre. Opening a Food Hub on Teesside will allow us to sustainably support more groups through our partnership with Middlesbrough Environment City. As soon as we secure a building, we are ready to go – food supplies are ready and waiting.
Mark Fishpool, of Environment City, added: “The COVID pandemic has sent many more families into crisis but this is a solution that goes beyond the immediate challenge. It is a long-term solution that will have a really positive impact in our communities.
“This project is so exciting. Tackling food poverty is a number one priority and the Food Hub will provide a sustainable way to address this major issue.”
• Anyone who is able to offer potential permanent premises for an accessible distribution hub, ideally in Middlesbrough or Stockton, should contact Joe Dunne on 01642 579820 or email@example.com