Grundon staff dig deep to support Oxford Food Bank

Throughout December, many Grundon staff have generously been giving up their time to volunteer at Oxford Food Bank and yesterday (Monday) it was the turn of managing director Clayton Sullivan-Webb.

Taking his fair share of packing and unpacking supplies, loading vans and going out on a delivery run; Clayton was also on hand to officially welcome a Grundon vehicle when it arrived packed to the rafters with food and other Christmas treats donated by employees from throughout the business.

Grundon managing director Clayton Sullivan-Webb volunteered at the Oxford Food Bank yesterday, helping to distribute food to charities throughout Oxford

The food collection marked another high point in the Festive Food Share campaign, which has seen Grundon fundraising for the Food Bank throughout December. It hopes to raise thousands of pounds towards the charity’s £60,000 a year running costs, and encourage businesses to change the way they dispose of unwanted food.

David Cairns, Co-Founder of the Food Bank, said the team’s efforts had been outstanding. “To have Grundon’s support has been tremendous and we’ve been thrilled that as well as raising money, so many employees have become personally involved in volunteering.

“For staff to also generously donate food and to have Clayton here to receive it on our behalf, was the icing on the cake for a very successful partnership.”

Clayton Sullivan-Webb assists David Kay from the Oxford Food Bank in loading up a van with food to be delivered to local good causes

The Festive Food Share campaign, which began on December 1, has seen Grundon on a drive to encourage more customers to sign up for its dedicated food waste collection service. For every new customer signed up this month, Grundon is donating £25 to the Food Bank, while a further 25p will be donated for every food waste bin emptied from existing customers.

The company wants organisations to think more carefully about the way they dispose of unwanted food, adopting a discount and distribute policy, with disposal as the last resort.

Clayton said: “We’re thrilled that so many of our staff have wholeheartedly embraced helping the Food Bank, which does such a tremendous job in helping to feed vulnerable people in the community and working towards reducing food poverty.

“At the same time, they are very focused on reducing food waste and that’s very important to us too. Disposal of surplus food should always be the last resort and when you see what a fantastic job these people do by distributing unwanted – but perfectly edible – food, you have to wonder why so much good food is thrown away.

“If every supermarket, wholesaler or caterer could spend time with the Food Bank, they would see what a difference could be made.”

The Food Bank relies on the generosity of supermarkets and wholesalers to donate unwanted fresh food, such as fruit, vegetables, bread and dairy products, which is either on or just after its best before date.

It is then delivered by volunteers to some 50 charities in and around Oxford and a further 10 in Abingdon and Didcot.

For every £1 donated, the charity can convert this into around £20 worth of food, currently adding up to around £1 million worth of food a year

In addition to volunteering to assist the Oxford Food Bank throughout the Christmas period, Grundon employees have generously donated unwanted food to the Charity as part of the Festive Food Share campaign

Volunteering success

Here’s what just some of the Grundon volunteers had to say about their time with the charity:

Lorraine Milburn, human resources manager: “It was a real eye opener. I was surprised by the volume of food and the fact that there was plenty of perfectly good food that the Oxford Food Bank had been given that would have otherwise gone to waste. I imagine that there is a lot more that supermarkets could do with their surplus food – I got the impression that the Oxford Food Bank may have a race against time to get to the supermarkets to collect the food before it is thrown away.

“It’s great that the Oxford Food Bank are able to redistribute food in this way which would have otherwise gone to waste, and it’s a real shame that in all likelihood, more food goes to waste than the quantity that reaches the Food Bank’s warehouse.”

David Conway, payroll officer: “My shift was a good experience – what they do is really amazing. It’s great that they are able to help so many vulnerable people and also reduce food waste at the same time. It’s amazing that with annual business costs of £50,000 – £60,000, they can still provide around £1 million worth of food to the community.”

John Stephens, group logistics manager: “I arrived not really knowing what to expect but prepared to do anything that might assist the staff and the charities that the Oxford Food Bank supply. The first job of the day was to load the van and we left the warehouse full of goodies, destined to be delivered around Oxford. Throughout the shift that I was on, we visited around eight charities offering them fresh, chilled and dry foods to those that most needed it, delivering to churches, community centres and refuge places. Our last visit was to Roots – a fruit and veg supplier – where we loaded a pallet of goods donated by them onto the van to be taken back to the Oxford Food Bank warehouse and readied for deliveries going out.

“Having never done this type of thing before, I was absolutely amazed at people’s generosity, not only in giving food, but giving their time that they dedicate to helping others. Personally I gained so much respect for those that do give their time and efforts towards this very noble cause. I was amazed at what companies throw away, but also what they give to the charity so that it can be redistributed. I left the food bank feeling warm inside, knowing that I had helped in a little way toward others being catered for. I do know that if I can give some of my time in the future, I would gladly give it to the Oxford Food Bank to help support a great cause.”

Megan Toms, human resources co-ordinator: “I found the visit to the food bank quite surprising. I was expecting it to be mainly tins of food that people had donated, that they then parcelled up and delivered. When I arrived I was amazed by the amount of fresh produce there was and how it all looked to be very good quality. They explained that they collect from several supermarkets and wholesalers who would otherwise just be throwing the food away. The food is generally all on or just after the best before date so is perfectly fine to eat.

“We went to Gatehouse, which is a charity that helps the homeless and from there to several schools, which was also surprising as I wouldn’t have thought they would need the support of a food bank, but they use the food for breakfast and after school clubs, and to support the school dinners that they are required to provide. We went on to a youth club, a mental health charity and a hostel for the homeless and on the way back we stopped off at a wholesalers to collect some more items that they were donating. I think the work that the food bank is doing is great, it reduces food wastage and it goes to those who need it most, I think with more funding they may be able to reach more people.”

Nicola Beech, human resources advisor: “On the day, my most memorable delivery was to the Donnington Doorstep Nursery & Drop in Centre – the chef there (a lovely lady called Sandra) was really excited about the quality and range of the food that was on offer. She explained to me that the centre would not be able to run without the help of the Oxford Food Bank. The children (and parents) who attend the centre get to try food that they wouldn’t necessarily get to try if it wasn’t for either Sandra or the Oxford Food Bank.

“We visited three mental health charities, an asylum centre and a homeless shelter and it was very apparent how grateful the charities are to receive the food and how it helps to keep the centres open. Not only does it benefit places like this but it also reduces the amount of waste that is going to landfill.

“The volunteers all need a very special mention too as they are one of the main reasons that the scheme has become so successful. I loved being able to help and also got an insight to an amazing organisation. It has also made me think about how much food we throw away unnecessarily.”

For more information on the Oxford Food Bank, please visit www.oxfordfoodbank.org

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