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In March, St Ives Community Orchard signed up for the Co-op’s Food Share programme, with volunteers collecting the food that the shop was are due to throw away every night and giving it away the same evening or the following day.

The initial intention was to combat food waste, and help those battling financially with free food. Since lockdown, this has very quickly turned into something far more needed by the community, with many people losing their income, having to isolate, and not having their usual support groups.

Everybody is welcome to collect this free food, and many people come and collect it for other people who they are already supporting as they can’t leave home. Social distancing applies for collection.

The group began to discover people who were unable to come to collection days due to self-isolating, shielding, and disability or chronic illness, and are now also doing twice-weekly house deliveries of Co-op food and cooked meals.

Local people have quickly got right behind this initiative. The Rugby Club committee offered their premises, with a freezer to store food, and chef Dave Sharps (pictured above) is cooking meals. The group is also very grateful to have received a £300 donation from St Ives Community Food, £200 from Councillor Andrew Mitchell, £300 from Cllr Richard Robinson, and £100 from Liz’s Quizzes, as well as other donations from individuals.

Local fisherman Karl La Roche has been supplying mackerel, which has been very popular, and Ruby June’s Indian Kitchen has been providing curry and fish pie.

A local farmer from Trowan has allowed the group to pick the spring greens that were left on the fields after they had been cropped by the supermarket. Often, vegetables not good enough for sale are left on the fields to rot. In the past, the farmers used to let the townsfolk come in to pick them and it was called ‘gleaning’. They hope to rekindle this old tradition of free community food much more in the coming months if they can find other willing farmers.

The Food Share group is also working closely with St Ives Covid Coalition network to ensure that efforts are directed most efficiently, and that no resident of St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant, and Halsetown goes without essential support if they need it. This includes a ‘buddy’ system for help collecting food on one of the collection days, and/or with other needs like shopping.

If you are able to offer this group free food, if you are aware of any that may go to waste, if you’d like to donate, or you are needing help and support, please get in touch through the Facebook page St Ives Community Foodshare Group, via www.stivesorchard.co.uk/food/ or email stivesorchard@gmail.com

Collections are on the following days, all welcome: Palemon Best Recreational Park, Tuesday 12.30pm, Friday 5.30pm; St Ives Rugby Club, Thursday noon, Saturday 8pm.