5,000 free food parcels are distributed at Buxton church to people struggling during pandemic

A service set up to distribute surplus food in Buxton to people struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic has served up its 5,000th parcel.

By Gay Bolton
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 10:11 am
Cath Sterndale with son Dan, daughter Steph and food to be distributed to people in need during the pandemic.
Cath Sterndale with son Dan, daughter Steph and food to be distributed to people in need during the pandemic.

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, Waste Not Want Not has given away thousands of pounds worth of food and has redistributed produce that would otherwise end up in landfill.

The project is based at Buxton United Reformed Church where Cath Sterndale, and her son Dan, head the scheme. Church member Cath said: “It’s amazing to have got this far – it makes me think of the biblical feeding of the 5,000!”

She and her son came up with the idea four years ago. Cath said: “We originally started collecting leftover fruit and veg, which would be thrown away even though most of it was in excellent condition. Goods were donated because they had only a short sell-by date left, but they could really help someone struggling financially.”

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Initially the scheme was specifically to help homeless people and was operated under the banner of High Peak Homeless Help. But when the Covid-19 pandemic started they decided to open it up to everyone.

A grant from the Bingham Trust allowed Cath and Dan to develop the scheme and, since March 2020, Waste Not Want Not has been adopted by Buxton URC as a community service, supported by a management committee and five volunteer drivers.

The initiative runs six days a week, from 11am to 1pm, in the churchyard on Hardwick Square East. Cath and Dan pass bags of food over the wall, to maintain social distancing.

Food has been donated by a variety of shops, including Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose as well as the Fareshare scheme. Resources have been supplemented by donations and now other churches are getting involved – along with the nearby villages of Litton and Cressbrook.

“Food support is open to all,” says Cath. “We’ve served large families who have struggled financially, especially when the schools are closed. We’ve delivered to people who are shielding, afraid to go out, as well as those who couldn’t get a home delivery, were too frail to wait in a long queue or who had lost their jobs. We’ve worked alongside agencies to assist their service users, including schools, police, social services and health visitors."