By Nathan Bushell
The Teign Valley Larder’s success depends on everyone using it, not just those in need, and here’s why.
The Teign Valley Larder was established during the first lockdown last year to help provide meals to those who may have gone without as household incomes were put under increased pressure.
Ten months on, and the success of this venture is evident: we can confidently say that the larder provides the equivalent of at least 150 meals a week, which is the result of a community pulling together to help those in need.
However, there is another aspect to the larder, the aims of which are just as vital as making sure people don’t go hungry: reducing food waste.
In fact, they aren’t two separate aims. They are two halves of the same problem, and it is uncomfortable to know that some families are going hungry while perfectly edible food is being discarded by others.
Thankfully, there are members of the Teign Valley Larder who have built up connections in the region to divert food away from the waste incinerator to the larder’s shelves in Christow, Bridford, Ashton, Doddi and Dunsford.
And this food is there for everyone to enjoy.
There are clearly some people who are aware of the bounty available in those boxes, because we have had to recruit new volunteers to manage this aspect of the larder.
And it is important that this continues, because among the items with a ‘best before’ date that has already expired (but are still perfectly good to consume – nothing inedible makes its way on to the larder shelves) are lots of fresh vegetables and fruit that have been donated by local farms and retailers.
Our friendly local farms include: Windout Farm, Teign Greens, and Whippletree Farm. Other food comes from Food in the Community, South Devon Food Alliance, and other smaller organisations.
We do ask that other items are exchanged where possible, but this is definitely not a necessity. However, it is now starting to become a common sight, watching people walking through the villages with tins in hand to exchange for bananas, onions, potatoes, etc. It also becoming a common practice in households (typically round about teatime) to send a child down to the larder to see if a substitute can be found for something that was thought to be in stock at home.
It is worth noting that between May and Christmas last year, we saved at least 255kg (more than a quarter of a ton) of surplus fresh fruit, vegetables and longer life packaged food from being thrown away.
You can find the out-of-date items in the plastic crate on the floor in the church porch in Christow clearly labelled ‘Out of Date’. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be found on the vegetable rack on the table. When we get large amounts of fresh food, we also put this in the satellite larders in Ashton, Bridford, Doddi and Dunsford, and post a message on our Facebook page to let people know.
If you are clearing out your store cupboards and have out-of-date items to donate, please put them straight into the out-of-date box in the Christow church porch. Please don’t donate anything that has been opened, has damaged packaging, is more than a few months out of date, or (in the case of tins) has gone rusty.
And, again, thank you for helping to make the Teign Valley Larder a success.