Buxton URC feeds 5,000 through community project

buxton urc foodA church-based community service set up to distribute surplus food during the pandemic has just served up its 5,000th parcel.

Since the first lockdown began last March, Waste Not Want Not, based at Buxton United Reformed Church (URC), has given away thousands of pounds worth of food to the local community, some of which would have ended up in landfill.

The project is led by church member Cath Sterndale and her son Dan who first came up with the idea four years ago.

“It’s amazing to have got this far – it makes me think of the Biblical feeding of the 5,000!” said Cath.

“We originally started collecting left-over 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.”

Initially, the aim of the scheme was to help the homeless people and was operated under the banner of High Peak Homeless Help with surplus donations distributed by local community groups. But when the Covid-19 pandemic started it was decided to open the scheme up to everyone.

A grant from the Bingham Trust – a grant-making charity primarily focused on the SK17 area around Buxton – allowed mother and son to develop the scheme. In March 2020, Waste Not Want Not was adopted by Buxton URC as a local community service, supported by a management committee and five volunteer drivers.

It operates six days a week, between 11am-1pm. Cath and Dan set up tables in the church yard, and pass bags of food over the wall to maintain social distancing.

WNWN Cath Dan SterndaleInitially, the project was intended as an eight-week stop-gap measure, it has now been running for nearly a year.

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 local churches are getting involved too – 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 also worked alongside agencies to assist their service users, including local schools, police, social services and health visitors.”

Image 1: Cath Sterndale with son Dan, daughter Steph and some of the Waste Not Want Not donations
Image 2: Cath and Dan coping in all weathers
Published: 25 February 2021

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