Food Group Plans Town Centre Community Cafe

By Catherine Smyth Media

A FOOD Group has relocated and will be opening a community café at in Rawtenstall hopefully by Christmas.

Since April this year the group had been meeting in the community room at St Mary’s CE School, Rawtenstall, but now organisers have obtained a grant to make changes to the Positive Start building on Bury Road, Rawtenstall, across from the Fire Station.

The Food Group has already started on a Friday and is already well used.

Food Group co-ordinator Sultana Hussain said: “The Friends of St Mary’s have been running a Food Group in association with FairShare and Recycling Lives.

“People are not means tested, they come in for a coffee and a chat and if they wish they can have access to food. They offer a donation, we suggest £3.50, and that covers the cost of expenses. We are not a food bank.”

The Food Group offers a selection of ambient and fresh food, which in the past has included ham and beef joints, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables as well as bread, which is near its sell by date, cereal, tinned fruit and veg, sauces and whatever is donated by FairShare and Tesco.

Sultana said: “We don’t give a food parcel, people can pick what food they want or need for their suggested weekly donation.

“There are three aims of the Food Group: reducing food poverty, assisting with home budgeting and alleviating food waste. People come to the Food Group for any of those reasons.

“Some of the people who use the Food Group have now become volunteers and now help to run it.”

One of the users said: “Personally, I hate to think that perfectly good food is being wasted and ending up in landfill and that is why I come to the Food Group. I think it is a good idea.

“You can also have a coffee and a chat and I look forward to coming here each week.”

Sultana, 37, is originally from London, but moved to Rawtenstall with her husband and daughters when her eldest child Sophia, 13, started high school.

She said: “I started working as a volunteer at St Mary’s and then I got this job. It was very different for me coming here; it is a much slower pace of life.

“I love meeting new people and socialising. The Food Group is a genuine community and I find it very rewarding to help someone who really needs it.

“I also co-ordinate a sister Food Group held at Accrington and Rossendale College on Wednesday mornings.”

The Positive Start Food Group meets every Friday from 10am to 11.30am.

A grant of £2,000 has been secured from Lancashire Community Investment Fund to make changes to the Positive Start building to create a community café where donated food will be used to create meals that will be on sold for a maximum of £2.50.

The group has a list of items that are needed for the new kitchen including shelves, worktops, an oven, hob and double sink.

If anyone can help they can contact Sultana on 07875 968528.

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