The Robert Gillow Food Initiative
Born out of a natural disaster after Storm Desmond, The Robert Gillow Food Initiative seeks to reduce food waste and increase social inclusion for everyone. The project is run out of The Robert Gillow pub on Market street which is open 12pm – 1am everyday and provides access to free food for everybody, no questions asked.
Every week we make our collection from Fareshare Lancashire and Cumbria, by its nature the collection can contain a vast variety of food items that have various levels of use. We take stock of all ambient, chilled and frozen food that we can utilise to turn into meals or offer to people as grab and go snacks such as cereal bars or cakes. Should we find that our kitchen requires any extra ingredients in which to turn the intercepted food into a meal we place orders with our regular local suppliers.
On top of this we are lucky enough to be regularly supported by Lunesdale Bakery in Kirkby Lonsdale whom regularly supply bags of unsold loaves, rolls, scones and tea cakes. We even receive donations from the Morecombe Food Bank of items that they have too heavy a stock of and donations from the public straight out of the allotment. As of last week we began to receive weekly donations from Tesco Carnfourth, further increasing our capacity to help people.
People who access the food are not required to be customers and in fact some people come in utilise the take away boxes provided and leave again with their free food. These people are also not required to make a donation for the food either, though there are options for people to say thank you and contribute if they want or are able to. People are able to access the food as little or as much as they wish or need. Some come in daily, some twice a day, others as and when they require it but most stumble upon the offer as they enter the pub and cannot quite believe what they are seeing.
We like to make a wide range of meals for people to enjoy and sometimes our access to food can produce some surprising challenges for our chefs. Sometimes it might be a food item we have never come across before, other times it may be an overabundance of one ingredient that we must use in many different and imaginable ways before it becomes wasted. Our motto is never say no when it comes to donations!
Our objectives for the project are three fold – To reduce food waste, to remove the stigma from food poverty and to challenge social exclusion. Over the last six months I think we can modestly say we have been successful in achieving these three objectives serving around 600 plates of food each week. So at the moment our focus is on expanding our project and extending its to reach even more people.
Our school message
The charity were in the position to donate to schools in our area a large quantity of breakfast cereal that was surplus to their requirements (short shelf life). In May 2016 the Robert Gillow Food Inititative gave St Luke's 250 boxes of various cereals to give out to our school children and to use at our breakfast and after school club. We would like to say a very big thank you for this and the work you do, and wish you all the best in your future projects.