From Depot to Food Pantry: A day in the life of a Christmas cake

12 December 2023
Al Blog

Michelle Redpath and Al Roy in our FareShare Team talk us through the journey of one food item from our Depot in Leith to a member of one of our food pantries.

Each day at Cyrenians FareShare depot in Leith, lorries come in with deliveries of food. Each delivery is brought in, sorted, and then sent out to food charities across Edinburgh, central and south-eastern Scotland.  

To show the impact of the food we receive, and the journey that it can take, we have followed the journey of a single item from its arrival in the depot, through sorting, and back out as an item available at one of the Cyrenians’ community pantries.  

These pantries operate on a pop-up basis in communities across Edinburgh, Midlothian, and the Borders. They are run in collaboration with local community groups and offer those on low incomes a variety of foods in exchange for £2 per shop.  

The item we are following are boxes of Tesco’s Finest stollen (German Christmas cake). Items like these are a welcome treat for pantry members, especially during the festive season. 

Every week day, we receive food from Tesco’s distribution centre in Livingston. Tesco are FareShare’s largest single corporate donor - in November, we distributed seventy-five tonnes of food, of which twelve were from Tesco. The charities we serve are extremely grateful for the range of food that Tesco supplies us with, from steaks, to sweet potatoes, to sandwiches. 

On Wednesday 6 December, Tesco delivered twelve cages of food to the depot, which included fifteen boxes of Tesco’s Finest stollen. First, these cages were taken into the depot – cages with chilled items must be temperature probed, to ensure they're safe to consume. As the stollen is kept at room temperature, we did not need to check that.  

Next, FareShare volunteers ‘sorted’ the Tesco delivery so it could be entered onto our online system, GLADYS. To do this, they recorded details about the delivery, such as the haulier (Tesco’s own fleet) and the time of arrival (09:12), and details about the item, including the weight of one box (3.15kg) and its best before date (05/01/2024). 

Photo 1: Stollen in the depot.
Photo 2: Recording details about the stollen for FareShare’s online system, GLADYS.

Later that afternoon, an order was placed on GLADYS for the Midlothian Community Hospital Gardens Pantry. This order, which included two boxes of stollen, was then picked and packed by volunteers at the FareShare depot. Once the order was packed and labelled, it was stored in the depot, ready for the pantry the following day. 

Next morning, the Pantry Coordinator, Lisa, loaded up her van to make the deliveries. Once at the Pantry, Lisa and the pantry volunteer, Sarah, unloaded their order. They set up the pantry, laying out all the items available that day for members to select, including the stollen.  

Pantry members with their stollen. Josie, a pantry member who chose some stollen that week, said the food pantry has been a great support to our wider community. The team running the pantry are so lovely and understanding. The rise in cost of living is affecting people in so many ways, and the pantry helps take some of the pressure off.”

Stollen on a plate.

At Cyrenians, we know that Christmas can be a very stressful period for those struggling financially. The food distributed through the pantries, and other community projects and charities, helps to ease these pressures and ensure everyone has access to good food, no matter their circumstances.