Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke

Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke
Posted on 30.03.23
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Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke

From a social supermarket to emergency food parcels and a community lounge, Affordable Food Stoke can only continue to offer vital services to the community thanks to its team of 19 volunteers.

Now Nikki and Duane Barrett, who established Affordable Food Stoke in Blurton in 2017, have nominated their volunteers in the Team of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Duane said: “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. Nikki and I are the face but without the volunteers none of it happens. It comes down to them.”

Now a registered charity, Affordable Food Stoke has a request for an emergency food parcel every 90 minutes.

Duane said: “When we were granted registered charity status in 2021 we wanted this togetherness to grow and one of the ways we were able to nurture this connection was to ensure our trustees were made up of local community members. Some of whom volunteered for us, and some that used our services, thus allowing us a clear link to the community.

“Success can only be achieved if we are people led, ensuring the community are at the centre of the decision-making process, and the heart of everything we do.
“These relationships have enabled us to positively affect the lives of families in Stoke-on-Trent.
Over the course of the last 12 months, over 10,000 people have needed an emergency food parcel from a foodbank in Stoke-on-Trent, highlighting not only the need, but also the pressure families are under.

“This burden, increased by the cost-of-living crisis, and rising food/energy/fuel prices, is finding people in a difficult position unable to provide for their families.”

The Affordable Food Stoke free food section started with a small vegetable rack filled with just a few items. Duane and Nikki noticed more and more people accessing this service and actively asking for more as they were openly struggling with food insecurity issues.
To support the growth of the free food section they now partner with FareShare, Neighbourly, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Booker. They have volunteers dedicated to collecting surplus food from various supermarkets which ensures there is always something available to those that need it the next day.
An average 200 people a week access this service quoting reasons such as food insecurity, financial struggles, family reasons or simply wanting to support the reduction of food waste.
They currently collect from 12 organisations and since February 2022 Affordable Food Stoke has collected, sorted and circulated more than 22,385kg of food, the equivalent of 67,650 meals, saving 90,920kg of CO2 emissions.
Another success of the free food section is how many of the beneficiaries have gone on to become volunteers. 14 of the current volunteers are or were beneficiaries of at least one of the services.
Duane added: “There is a demographical mix of beneficiaries that access this service, showing that as an organisation we are welcoming, open and inclusive to all community members regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and race.

“There is a camaraderie amongst beneficiaries, keen to support one another, showing each other kindness and solidarity.”

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