Abbey People Food Hub celebrated its 4th anniversary!

The Abbey People Food Hub celebrated its 4th anniversary! We decided to celebrate it by remembering its history and evolution over the years. It has changed a lot since its first iteration in March 2020.

The Food Hub started with two main purposes: reduce food waste and support the community. Even before the COVID pandemic there was a desire in the community to have a Community Fridge where local residents could share surplus food. When lockdown happened, there was a great amount of food going to waste across Cambridge. Not only that, but many people in our community suffered from changes in their income caused by the lockdown and overall pandemic effects. The Food Hub served as a real lifeline for a lot of households during the uncertain period. It also supported the community in other ways because it allowed those who were anxious to go to shops to access food in a setting where they felt more comfortable, and it gave those who were feeling isolated a place to come to see a familiar face and feel connected to others (both visitors and volunteers).

The Food Hub has changed a lot since its first session. When it first opened, it was open 6 days a week, each session was 3 hours long (!) and was generously hosted by Barnwell Baptist Church. Since then, the days and hours have reduced gradually to 3 days a week and in May 2021 we moved to the East Barnwell Community Centre site, where we’ve been ever since.

Surplus food supply has reduced drastically over the years due to a number of factors (less food on supermarket shelves, more people relying on reduced food due to rising cost of living) – so we have had to adapt accordingly. At a certain point, we had to start buying some food to keep up with demand. When this happened, we introduced the Traffic Light System, which communicates how much food we have each session (Green=lots, please take otherwise it might go to waste, Red= not very much/we’ve had to buy some of this in, so please only take if you can’t access it elsewhere). The most recent change was the introduction of “The Pantry”, in November 2023. This is an area where people can contribute £3 or £5 towards a small or big basket of tinned food and toiletries/household items. The idea behind the pantry is to make the Food Hub experience even better for the community, with more choice of food and a more reliable amount of food at each session. The tinned food and toiletries were items that we were having to buy in and, because we couldn’t afford much, what people could access was really limited. The money taken through the Pantry is then used to buy more food in. We’re still trialling The Pantry to see whether it’s something we can afford to keep running and if it’s something the community want. If it is, the hope in the long-term is that The Pantry will pay for itself and be a sustainable, reliable, and affordable source of food for the community.

Over these years we (thankfully!) had the help and support of so many people and organisations that it is impossible to list. But we would like to say a special “Thank You” to Barnwell Baptist Church for hosting us for so long; to Cambridge Sustainable Food for supporting us with food; to CoFarm for providing us with gorgeous locally grown produce and to all the sponsors and donors who have funded us and kept our doors open for 4 years. And mostly, all our incredible volunteers, who really are the heart and soul of the Food Hub and without whom it wouldn’t still exist.

There are many ways people can contribute to the operation and maintenance of the Food Hub: by donating money or food, by volunteering during the sessions (for 1 hour in one of the sessions or the whole session, regularly or just once in a while), by collecting supermarket donations or delivering food parcels to local residents that have no way of going to the sessions.

Although we have changed how we operate over the years, our purpose has remained the same: to support those in the community who are struggling to make ends meet, to be a place in the community where everyone is welcome and to combat food waste.


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