Van to help tackle food poverty hits the Borough's streets
An eco-van which will help feed those most in need and prevent food going to landfill is ready to hit the Borough streets.
The 'lean, green delivery machine' will help stock Community Pantries where people can access a range of food items in exchange for a small donation. These will be based in community centres, schools and other locations across Stockton-on-Tees.
The van is part of the Council's ongoing commitment to support reduce food insecurity. In July 2021 councillors approved £60,000 funding to ensure that the Stockton-on-Tees Food Power Network (SFPN), a group of Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations which work alongside the Council to eradicate food poverty, could access the best quality surplus food, equipment and training for staff and volunteers.
The eco-van will help SFPN volunteers to easily collect and box up surplus food from FareShare distribution centres and supermarkets and deliver them to the members of the SFPN who are working to tackle food insecurity and to the new Community Pantries that are being set up around the Borough.
Handing over the keys of the van to the SFPN, Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of the Council, said: "We're committed to doing all we can and this is one of the innovative ways we are joining forces with VCSE partners to make sure families can put a healthy and tasty meal on their table.
"The funding we've put in place covers both the purchase and running costs of the van and we hope having this eco-friendly vehicle will transform the way SPFN and other VCSE partners can distribute food, which might have otherwise ended up going to waste.
"We are also supporting VCSE organisations across the Borough by paying for an annual subscription to FareShare so that they have a reliable and accessible food supply to boost the stock they get from other sources."
Jon Carling, Chief Executive Officer at Catalyst, part of Stockton-on-Tees Food Power Network, said: "Food security is vital for people in Stockton-on-Tees and with this new eco-van our volunteers will be able to collect supplies of food, load it into the new 'lean, green delivery machine' and easily deliver it to those in need.
"Having a dedicated vehicle for staff and volunteers from the SFPN network to use means that we will be able to provide more people with nutritious, good quality food in a sustainable way."