Follow the Cyrenians FareShare van on its journey delivering quality surplus food around Edinburgh.
It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and volunteers Chris and Dave are heading out from the Cyrenians food depot in Leith to deliver vital food supplies. The back of the Cyrenians FareShare van is piled high with neatly labelled pallets containing surplus supermarket food requested by dozens of users across the city.
Food banks, breakfast clubs, community kitchens and a veterans home are just some of many organisations who log on to the Cyrenians FareShare website every week and choose the food which they will either sort into parcels to give to families in need or cook and serve to members of the community.
Chris, who has been a volunteer driver with the Cyrenians for four years, weaves his way calmly through the morning traffic as Dave, with two years as a volunteer, chats about his upcoming Taekwondo class.
One of their regular stops is at Fern’s Kitchen Catering within Balfour House which is run by Sarah Middlemiss who holds a week-day café for the over 60s to help reduce social isolation. Dave and Chris carry in laden trays which include chicken broth, fennel, potatoes, organic milk and lemon tart. “With the cold weather coming in I like to get meat and make stews which I can then freeze,” explains Sarah.
The FareShare system is based on distributing unwanted food from supermarkets and other food providers which is not needed because of supply chains. All of it is within its sell-by dates and much of it is top of the range products but FareShare and its service users only know a few days in advance what will be available. The service is a way of avoiding excessive food waste as well as keeping costs down for not-for-profit community projects. Two FareShare vans deliver food within Edinburgh five days a week and do a run down to the Borders twice a week.
Kerry Sweeny, who runs a breakfast club at Liberton High School, is always keen to take sliced bread, yoghurt and snacks as well as sanitary products for girls dealing with period poverty.
Malcolm Falconer, head chef at Whitefoord House, supported housing for veterans in Canongate, is full of praise for the service. “The quality of stuff Cyrenians sends us is as good as you get anywhere,” he says. With 80 residents some in their 80s, Malcolm strives to keep costs down and the residents well fed. “One of our veterans is gluten free and sometimes FareShare even brings us gluten free stuff which is great,” he adds.
The Citadel Youth Centre in Leith provide a range of services for for children and young people aged 6 to 21. Liz Duncanson, a family worker, and Jordan Luke, a social work student, unpack the trays of FareShare food which include margarita pizzas, cottage cheese and fish cakes. The items are sorted into bags which are then distributed to up to 15 local families a week.
By midday Chris and Dave are winding up and heading for the volunteers’ lunch back at the depot. Bagels with smoked salmon, chicken curry and apple crumble is more than welcome after a morning on the road.
Would you like to volunteer with Cyrenians FareShare, or are you an organisation who could donate food or benefit from receiving food from us? Contact us on 0131 475 2354/ email@example.com.