Waste not want not: How National Lottery funded community larders are reducing food waste

“Climate change is a global crisis and we can easily feel powerless to do anything about it. But we can take action at a local level.”

Saskia McCracken, Volunteer Co-ordinator at National Lottery funded Inverclyde Community Development Trust.

Across the country local community groups like Inverclyde Community Development Trust are showing us innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and in particular, help drive down Scotland’s food waste.

According to the WWF, an estimated 40% of all food grown goes to waste each year. When this food rots, high amounts of methane gas are released, which is a leading cause of climate change.

With that in mind, we spoke with the people behind two National Lottery funded community pantries and larders to find out how they are putting surplus food and locally grown produce to good use.

Inverclyde Community Development Trust

Two volunteers stand outside the community pantry smiling.
The pantries are run by volunteers and sell good quality surplus food at affordable prices.

Following the success of their Zero Waste Pantry in Greenock, Inverclyde Community Development Trust will be opening another pantry in Port Glasgow thanks to a recent National Lottery award of £149,456.

The pantry will be membership-led, run by volunteers and selling good quality surplus food at affordable prices. Anyone in Inverclyde can become a member and will be able to purchase about ten items for £2.50 per shop – which usually equates to a £10 to £15 shop. This means the community can save money while supporting sustainability by buying locally sourced food and food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Reflecting on the success and challenges of the group’s pantry model, Saskia McCracken, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Inverclyde Community Trust, says:

“We currently partner with another National Lottery funded project, the Inverclyde Shed, who supply locally grown, organic fresh fruit and vegetables to our Greenock pantry, and we look forward to developing this partnership when we open the Port Glasgow pantry.

Our Greenock Pantry has gained over 650 members since opening in December 2020 and we’ve successfully distributed over 25 tons of produce which would have otherwise gone to waste.”

Whilst more ‘zero-waste’ shops are opening, they are often unaffordable as they sell Fair Trade, organic and free range food, which can be expensive. Saskia says this can make them “inaccessible to the wider public”So the Trust are focusing on making good quality surplus food available to everyone by working with other National Lottery funded charities that can supply it, like Inverclyde Shed and FareShare.

By opening their second pantry they will be able to make sustainable food shopping accessible in the two biggest towns in Inverclyde.

EATS Rosyth

The EATS Rosyth team standing by their pop up food stall selling surplus food, tea and coffee and cakes for donations.
The EATS Rosyth team standing by their pop up food stall selling surplus food, tea and coffee and cakes for donations.

EATS Rosyth aims to improve food education, reduce waste, grow and share food, and in turn help the environment. Through their community garden, community hub and orchard, EATS encourages people to get involved in making their community a better place to live, and offers cooked meals using surplus food.

They provide advice and intergenerational training for people to cultivate their own gardens – teaching them how to grow their own food and prepare healthy meals. The group recently received £150,000 in National Lottery funding to keep up their brilliant work, and will continue to provide volunteering opportunities to the Rosyth community.

Ethan Daish, Food Project Manager for EATS Rosyth tells us more about the project:

People often fall into the trap of buying too much food and disposing of perfectly good food past its best before date and we would be happy to repurpose itWe offer gardening and cooking workshops and raise awareness of environmental issues across the whole community.

As well as their workshops and intergenerational work, they also focus on providing food to their community, which through the pandemic became increasingly important.

You can come to shop with us on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. We probably rescue an excess of 10 tonnes of surplus food per year for sharing with the community, along with the produce from [our] garden and orchard.”

Feeling inspired? Get in touch

We’re proud to support communities across Scotland, and the whole UK, who take climate action. And if these projects have sparked an idea for you – or if you have a project idea in mind already – why not get in touch?

If your local community group has an idea for a project that will take action on food, transport, energy, waste and consumption or the natural environment you might be able to get funding through our Together for Our Planet programme.

And if you’re looking for more inspiration…

Community pantries are one way of taking climate action at a local level, next time we talk about what some groups are doing to change attitudes towards growing food locally.

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