Events & News

More than just a food redistribution outlet:

UKHarvest’s Community Food Hubs Across West Sussex 

2023 has been an enormously important year for UKHarvest’s Community Food Hubs (CFHs) across West Sussex. Those who use the hubs will know that, thanks to WSCC and BIFFA, UKHarvest have increased the number of hub locations to 16 with the introduction of Bognor, Haywards Heath, Southwick, Petworth, Crawley, Storrington and Worthing, reaching more people than ever through the redistribution of food from local producers, suppliers, farmers and growers. You may have recently seen the success of the hubs have been recognised, winning the Food Waste Initiative category at the MRW National Recycling Awards 2023.

From fresh fruit and vegetables to ambient store cupboard foods, UKHarvest Community Food Hubs alone have reached a staggering 19,473 individuals, feeding nearly 60,000 people using food as the medium to engage and create communities around West Sussex. The hubs also provide external support from organisations helping to ease the burden of the current cost of living crisis, and aiding those who need it to find healthy and nutritious food for all. To date in 2023, UKHarvest has redistributed an enormous 201,639kgs of food that would otherwise have gone to landfill directly through the food hubs, reaching homes across the county. That’s the equivalent weight in kilogramms as an adult Blue Whale! 

UKHarvest are lucky enough to have Nigel Boshein heading up the Community Food Hubs across the county, often in attendance to help and support the local communities being created. Nigel has shared that I am proud to be part of the Community Food Hubs over the last 15 months, which I have seen grow exponentially from 7 to 16.  I have at first hand witnessed the growth and how the services that we provide have helped to bring communities together, to feel supported and valued. To recognise the absolute need and desperation of some of our users, to those that have come to help us reduce food waste. The heartfelt sense of gratitude shown by all has been powerful and at times emotional.” 

The impacts of the hubs are phenomenal, reaching people who are facing social isolation and seeking engagement and friendship from members of the community who are vulnerable and in need of local, friendly help and support. There are also a growing number of people who are new to the area, and in many cases, seeking refuge from their home countries, who are trying to find their way in a new culture and environment. One such user kindly shared that I use this pantry because I am from Syria, so I have to find new ways to discover food. I have very little money, so I save a lot coming here.” 

There have also been a growing number of families, especially single parent families who are finding the rising cost of living is creating a rapid increase in food insecurity, and more frequently, food poverty. Another hub user told us that I have 6 children so am trying to feed 8 of us. You are stars and angels and have really helped my family through!” 

In 2023, there has been a steep rise in families who are working, but do not meet the requirements for state help. Families such as Jana who relocated to Chichester earlier this year and has experienced increased food, household bills and rent with no increase in salary. Jana has 3 children and started using the Community Food Hub in Graylingwell, each Friday. Jana shared with Chichester Observer earlier this year that ‘It [CFH] has really helped. I’ve made quite a few friends. It helps parents that struggle.”  

Providing food and community is at the heart of each Community Food Hub. As the weather continues to create problems with travel, and the colder temperature mean that turning on the heating is imperative for more vulnerable people to remain safe and comfortable, there has been an increase in those coming to the space, that often offer hot refreshments and refreshments to all that attend. Many have noted that more and more people are coming to the social side of the hubs. We regularly speak to our food hub users, who are happy to share their experiences with us, although often ask to remain anonymous. One such user from Parklands food hub shared that I use it for social reasons as much as a source of food.”  

Chairman of the Residents Association in Parklands, and Community Food Hub volunteer and supporter, Ash Pal has noticed a growing need for the food hub. Ash attends Parklands Community Food Hub every week to share the food hub experience with the residents of the area and has shared that I spoke with a frequent pantry visitor last week and she said it [CFH] saved her about £60 a week. She is working and can afford to go elsewhere but it makes a difference to her, and she appreciates the environment.” 

UKHarvest would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers that have helped support the food hubs throughout the year. It wouldn't be possible to deliver the service without their help.