Grant News

Food in Community was recently awarded more than £31,000 by DEFRA from their Food Charities Grant Scheme, to help with the costs of buying food from local producers for its recipients during the pandemic.

Food Minister Victoria Prentis said:  

“Food in Community has been doing brilliant work amid a significant increase in demand over the past few months.  It is absolutely vital they have the resources they need and this funding has helped them provide food to some of the most vulnerable people in Totnes, and indeed across South Devon, at this enormously challenging time.” 

Co-director David Markson said, "The DEFRA grant has enabled us to purchase food from around twenty local food producers at a time when demand from their hotel and catering customers fell. 100% of the money was to be spent on food for struggling households. It’s fantastic to be able to simultaneously support people in need of food parcels and businesses who are struggling financially due to the pandemic, local jobs and sustainable food production."

Food in Community was established in response to food waste, food poverty and social isolation. Volunteers collect and re-distribute surplus vegetables, fruit and other fresh food from local producers, benefiting vulnerable households across South Devon. This has equated to more than 2.5 tonnes per week of surplus and non-surplus high quality food being distributed, generating a massive saving for local charities whilst enabling them to treat their beneficiaries to the best quality fresh food.

Co-Director, Chantelle Norton added, “More than 25 organisations across South Devon have received food for their recipients to date as a result of this DEFRA grant, in addition to the households we help directly. One organisation told us that their clients were delighted and that the food was helping enormously, especially with the young families struggling to access nutritious fresh food. Feedback so far from end recipients of the food is that they are really enjoying eating it, with one describing it as ‘A ray of sunshine delivered to my doorstep.’”

Spring 2020 The Lockdown Issue

We thought we would update you on FiC’s plans for the weeks ahead now lockdown is upon us. This is when the solidarity and friendship we have nurtured together come into their own. Please do stay in touch and let us know if you need help, or can offer it. We are all going to need to reach out in different ways to get through this.

How to help yourself, neighbours and friends if experiencing loss of income

Many of us are experiencing a sudden drop in income. If this is causing immediate hardship, please check out the COVID-19 pages on your local council website. Most have links to the different grant schemes, although we are aware already that some are falling between the cracks. You can also find your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau online, and fill in the contact form to request a ring back. South Hams CAB staff are all working from home, they are experiencing higher volumes of enquiries than usual but they will get back by telephone, in a few days usually, and will advise regarding housing, bills, debt, benefits, and can refer to the food bank most local to you for an emergency food parcel. Get in touch with us if someone has no food in the house, are vulnerable or live with someone who is and they need food immediately.  We are offering an emergency food doorstep delivery service for Totnes and district postcodes, in addition to our scheduled food delivery service.

Provision for medically vulnerable elderly

We started a new collaboration with Totnes Caring, where FiC deliver small packs of easy to prepare / eat food to their clients’ doorsteps. We delivered the first box to a lovely chap who is confined to his flat due to multiple health conditions. Next week we will be able to add fresh soup and pies due to the generosity of Tideford Organic soups and Clive’s Pies.

Produce Deliveries

Weekly produce box deliveries continue uninterrupted, with extra procedures to reduce the risk of infection to our volunteers, donors and recipients. We are fielding a much higher than usual volume of calls from the public requesting help but because we are not a phone advice service, we are signposting people to local services to help with money problems, issues with getting shopping delivered, issues with shielding food boxes, and in the meantime are working hard to increase our supply of surplus food for food banks and people in crisis.

Our suppliers are being absolutely brilliant about donating food despite the huge uncertainties for their own operations. Orders are down for some, whilst for others orders are through the roof, but some are already having to reduce their output due to staff absence. Please do support our local ethical food businesses if you possibly can by buying their products, liking their social media posts and directing friends who have lost work to help them fill any advertised gaps in their workforce. They give back quietly and so generously behind the scenes by donating their surplus food and for the good of our community. FYI Riverford temps are recruited through Mego Recruitment.

Provision for families during school closure

Whilst schools and charities we usually support have paused most activities, we are collaborating with the Connection Hub (Totnes Food Bank) to put together recipe food boxes for their clients and families in receipt of free school meals. We combed the extensive FiC cafe archives for straightforward recipes that the families at home together can replicate and that children will enjoy.

Food in Community continues to run on a shoestring, we do a lot with relatively little, but we are reliant on income from our cafes, events and workshops to keep our van on the road and cover other essential expenses such as insurance, which is shortly due for renewal. If you feel able to help, or know of anyone who is keen to support our work by donating, Food in Community’s bank details are as follows:

Coop bank

Sort code 08 92 99

Account no 65637340          Thank you x


Pay What You Feel Community Cafes

Cafes in Newton Abbot and Totnes will be cancelled for the time being, so we are continuing to prioritise supplying produce to food banks and COVID-19 support groups who are cooking for people who cannot prepare their own meals. We are offering a stand in service for cooks who are making meals for the vulnerable, who may have to self isolate, may be struggling with childcare, or need a break.

Looking beyond the pandemic, our pay what you feel cafes like ours could have a vital role in rebuilding our communities and could offer a vital stepping stone back to work for displaced catering and hospitality workers. We would like to see a (government supported?) community café in every town and village, and a pay what you feel model, meaning that everyone can eat good sustainably produced food in a friendly environment and at a fair price.

Gleaning update

Local farmers and growers are real heroes, especially in the current crisis, ensuring there is still good food available. Before we enter the hungry gap, when food is not being harvested locally, we will be field gleaning. Due to the risks of lift sharing with people you don’t live in the same space with, we can only bring a small number of gleaners and all must drive separately to the gleaning location in the South Hams. Let us know if you can help.


FiC was filmed today by Riverford’s Wicked Leeks team. We were asked about the impact the coronavirus is having on people who rely on food donations and the wider issues of food poverty, inequality and isolation and how FiC helps to address this. Great to be asked. Look out for that piece on social media very soon.

And finally……….

The very talented and engaging Newton Abbot Ukulele band pictured above at a fundraising event for FiC at Ashprington Village’s Coffee Morning recently. An amazing and very useful £160 was raised! A very big thank you to our volunteer David Davis who organised the event and also played and to the residents of Ashprington village who attended and gave very generously.

New pay what you feel cafe to launch in Newton Abbot

We are excited to announce that Food in Community are about to open the doors on a new pay what you feel community café in Newton Abbot. Saturday 23rd February 2019, with lunch served from 12.30 - 2.30.

Imagine a tasty hot meal in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, there is acoustic music playing quietly in the background, and a hum of chatter. Then imagine being invited to pay what you can afford for your meal, knowing that all profits go to help provide good food for local families and tackling food waste.

Every week of the year, Food in Community’s volunteers source fresh surplus, mainly organic vegetables, fruit and other fresh produce and deliver it every week of the year to charities and community groups, including food banks, soup kitchens, nurseries, schools, youth groups and carer’s groups. It also runs cooking courses, workshops, and provides a catering service for community events. About four years ago, Food in Community started Totnes’s first ‘Pay What You Feel’ café using some of the surplus food collected, and it is now a very popular monthly social event.
“We saw that we had created something of value, using food to bring people together,” says David Markson, co-Director of Food in Community. “Last year, Food in Community won Transformative community business of the year, a national award bestowed by Social Enterprise UK in recognition of our social and environmental impact. When we asked why out of all the projects in the country, the judges had chosen our project, they said that our work could and should be replicated elsewhere. As we get a number of diners from Newton Abbot at our Totnes café, and we have existing relationships with charities in Newton Abbot, it made sense to us to start a similar café here.”

Chantelle Norton, also a co-Director, says “I’m excited by the enthusiasm shown for the new cafe locally, from the public, local councillors, the Avenue Church and charities providing food to people in crisis.” She added, “I’m also looking forward to getting to know new volunteers and introducing them to working with surplus food. We select the best ingredients, and the menu planning is a lot of fun, like the TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ but on a bigger scale. We usually serve at least one hearty main course with sides, salads, soup and bread, and we make sure that there are always decent vegan and gluten free options on offer. It’s really rewarding to see people enjoying what you’ve served and having a good time.”

The friendly café team welcomes new volunteers. If you would like to get involved on the day at the café helping to prepare the food, or with front of house duties, for an hour or so helping to set up and make the venue welcoming, please get in touch. We are also on the lookout for local musicians: please contact us if you are interested in performing at the lunch. We also welcome young musicians who would like the experience of playing to a live audience in an unpressured environment. All volunteers eat and drink on the house of course!

Lunch, teas, coffee and cake will be served between 12.00-2.30 at the Avenue Church hall on Saturday February 23rd, then Saturday March 30th, and then on the fourth Saturday of each month. We look forward to welcoming you.