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Bury St Edmunds' Best Before Project celebrating anniversary during 'incredible' period




A food project in Bury St Edmunds celebrated its third birthday last week while the introduction of two new project co-ordinators in September has seen ‘incredible’ results.

The Best Before Project, based in Elseys Yard, was set up in 2017 and reaches out to supermarkets and other food suppliers for produce they are due to throw away, which the project stores and sells on on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.

There are currently around 10 volunteers that work for the project, but thanks to a Covid-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, since the start of September, the project has been able to pay two project co-ordinators, Sarah Bullen and Roz Scott to work 28-hour weeks - the extra time is allowing them to reach out to more suppliers and find ways to make their job roles sustainable.

From left to right: Roz Scott, Julie Bailey (Tesco Community Champion), Kate McFarland, Cllr David Nettleton and Sarah Bullen. Picture by Mecha Morton.
From left to right: Roz Scott, Julie Bailey (Tesco Community Champion), Kate McFarland, Cllr David Nettleton and Sarah Bullen. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Kate McFarland, who works for West Suffolk Council as a waste strategy officer and also volunteers for the project, said since the project co-ordinators had been able to put in more hours, the results have been ‘incredible.’

She said: “I would say by now we’ve already received about half a tonne of extra food than we would normally have got, just in a couple of weeks. It’s incredible what they are doing.”

The food available at the project depends on what the volunteers and project co-ordinators can get in, but they have connections with Asda, Waitrose, Tesco’s and churches around the area.

The Best Before Project in Elseys Yard, Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton.
The Best Before Project in Elseys Yard, Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Any food not sold before going out of date is collected by West Road Church who redistribute it through deliveries to the community.

Whilst the project is in a significantly stronger position now than how it was when it first started, Kate said they are keen to reach out for more volunteers, especially now the two project co-ordinators are gaining some momentum.

“The other support we are looking for is more volunteers. We have a great relationship with the McColls on the Hardwick Estate, where they have two members of their staff who are regular volunteers in the shop,” she said.

“So not only are they giving us donations of food, they’re giving us staff time which really helps to maintain a consistent opening.”

Volunteers of the Best Before Project, at the celebration of its first birthday back in 2018.
Volunteers of the Best Before Project, at the celebration of its first birthday back in 2018.

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