Case Study: Tackling Food Waste with Fareshare

“Being able to pick out the food they want gives choice and dignity back to the customers,” explains Elena Vacca, Food Project and Your Local Pantry Coordinator at Stockport Homes Group.

Stockport Homes Group is part of a network of pantries in Stockport called Your Local Pantry, a group of affordable community food stores that are member and volunteer led. The project runs across the UK and collectively support more than 4,800 households, while helping people save more than £780 per year.

Members pay a small fee of £3.50 and then get to choose 10 items of food from the pantry. “We pop the food on the shelves, then customers come in and purchase what they need that week,” Elena continues.

Tackling food waste

The pantry helps to tackle food waste too as they get all their food through FareShare, including weekly deliveries from FareShare Greater Manchester and surplus collections via FareShare Go.

“We never know what we’re going to get so that’s the novelty and the good part of the customers coming to see what we have - it’s different each week. People love the variety, there’s things that they might not ever choose in a supermarket.

“We also offer free fruit and veg to customers – it ties in with our healthier eating incentives and, if it’s free, people are more likely to pick it up. We’ve seen around a 60% take up of the free fruit and veg offer – it really adds to their diet, when previously they might not have had as much.”

The team collect surplus food from several ASDA stores in the local area, including ASDA Stockport, ASDA Cheadle Hulme and ASDA Reddish, which helps to boost their offering.

“We tend to get lots of different things from ASDA,” Elena continues. “We recently received some dog food which was unusual but a lot of customers have dogs so it really helped. We get lots of tinned goods, things like crisps and chocolates too.

“We’re thankful for that from ASDA. We have a really great relationship with the stores and we pick up what we can – it works really well.

“Food is crucial and meeting the need of consumer demand is challenging but we’re so thankful for all the food we do get from FareShare.”


Making a social impact

While food helps to bring people in, the team provides a wraparound service to help people get back on their feet, including employment support, money and housing advice.

“We like to think that we’re giving people more of a hand up than a hand out,” adds Elena. “We work with lots of partners and also offer cooking sessions using the pantry items so that customers can become more familiar with ingredients – so if we have kidney beans, we’ll make a chilli.

“We also try and tackle social isolation – having the pantry open and food as a hook, we encourage people to come earlier, get a brew, and meet other people while also doing shopping.

“A lot of customers have said they save a lot of money, and that through coming to the pantry they’ve increased their mental health and physical health.”

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We’ve seen around a 60% take up of the free fruit and veg!

Elena Vacca