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Martin Wilson School Foodshare is part of a network of Foodshares supported by Shrewsbury Food Hub, where everyone is welcome to collect a few bags of food on a ‘Pay As You Feel’ basis, helping to stop food waste and stretching people’s budgets.

During the first lockdown, many of the groups the Food Hub served shut, and we needed new outlets for our food. As we had already provided surplus food to Martin Wilson School to support vulnerable families, we asked if they could open a Foodshare. They thought this was a great idea and a weekly Foodshare was set up in summer 2020. Later that year, they introduced a community freezer and then a community fridge in summer 2022.

Joanna, who coordinates the Foodshare, said: “The surplus food helps people financially, but just as importantly engenders community spirit. Volunteers talk to visitors about ways of preparing foods, and there is a lot of chat in the queues for the tables. The food is offered in the spirit of preventing food waste which changes the tone of the Foodshare from getting something for nothing to one of helping to reduce waste. There is a great atmosphere.”

Every Sunday, the Hub delivers them a range of ambient food such as fruit, veg, bread, cakes, buns and eggs. As the food is surplus, we never know what we will collect. One week there might be mainly bread and cabbages, the next mangoes and potatoes, and the next yoghurts and carrots.

Having a community fridge and freezer means we can also deliver chilled and frozen food which increases the nutritional value of the types of food shared.

Joanna added: “Chilled food offers people a chance to give their families a treat such as yogurts and desserts. Everyone uses milk and feels the impact of price rises on basics. Although not everyone has access to freezer space, frozen food that can form the basis of a meal and ready meals are popular. Being able to offer chilled surplus food allows a more varied range of foods that save people more money.”

The Foodshare is well attended with between 40-60 people going along every week. Joanna estimates that a person using the Foodshare saves in the region of a £10 shop in a supermarket.

As well as providing a practical response to the financial pressure than many families find themselves in, Foodshares help us to save more good food from going to waste, preventing carbon emissions and protecting the environment.

One visitor said: “I come because I hate waste, it’s very social and helps the budget, especially with the cost of living at the moment. There’s a variety of stuff, not just the basics and it introduces me to new foods. I’d never had celeriac or fennel before.”

Find your nearest Foodshare here.