man in black t-shirt holding coca cola bottle
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Our three villages (Teversal, Skegby and Stanton Hill) in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire do not have a Parish Council. But we have developed a Neighbourhood Plan and formed a Neighbourhood Forum which tries to influence development in ways which benefit the community. We have declared a Climate Emergency and formed links with three local churches which have their own Justice and Peace group and also run a charity shop – The Vine Tree . The Co-op store in Stanton Hill is at the centre of our community so one of us, who is a Co-operative Party member, joined the party’s  Food Justice campaign and made contact with Ashley Marshall, our local Member Pioneer. We really appreciated that the Co-op Party was running a political campaign on food security, which also had a practical element through Food Share.

Ashley suggested we work together on Sustainability and speak to the Co-op store manager who introduced us to Caboodle: the Co-op Food Share Platform. So we realised we could reduce food waste by taking food close to its ‘Best Before’ date and making it available to members of our community who need it. But where to do that? We had another link with Marlon Imamshah, from Inspire, who ran a Food Safety course for us, which was needed by our Food Share volunteers. He helped us to apply to the Inspire library service who offered us a set of shelves in Skegby library.

So, from June 2022, our volunteers have been taking food from the Co-op, and other donated food, to the library twice a week, where those who need it can access it. We have eight volunteers and an average of about eight people making use of the Food Share, mostly on a regular basis. Some of them, especially children, have increased their use of the library in other ways too. The Vine Tree has given us a grant to buy a community fridge, and the librarians have been incredibly supportive. The churches collected donations during Advent before Christmas.

We faced a challenge last Christmas when the library was closed for ten days and the Co-op had a lot of wasted food. So this year we will have a special Boxing Day Food Share session in All Saints’ church and expect to make a lot of Christmas food available.

Ashfield District Council has taken on Ashley our Member Pioneer as Food Coordinator, Regeneration, to help run Feeding Ashfield, a network of local organisations working collaboratively with the aim of providing improved access to food and educational opportunities in the District. We all know that food insecurity needs a political solution but we feel we have gained a great deal from a truly cooperative effort, which has brought different elements of our community together.