Like everyone else I have been reliant on video conferencing and even the old-fashioned telephone to check in with some of our local organisations recently. One of my favourite meetings has been with the fantastic organisation Second Helpings in Stamford.
While they have rightly been highlighted in this newspaper before, I was struck by the many ways in which they make a positive impact to our community and how each of these impacts reflect some of the different stages of our recent crisis.
First, Second Helpings seeks to tackle food waste. Every year in the UK, 4.5m tonnes of food is wasted worth a staggering £14bn. Second Helpings have partnerships with local supermarkets, restaurants and farms to take on their unused food and cook meals in what they call their ‘bunker’. People then come and pay whatever they can or want for a meal.
Right at the start of this crisis, I was very focused on encouraging residents to only shop for what is needed and to not stockpile. I was disappointed to see reports in other parts of the region of increased waste disposal containing food, as the items panic bought went out of date.
Thankfully, due to the responsibility of most of our community and the excellent work of supermarkets to control stocks, we quickly moved on from that episode.
Then came the next big issue Second Helpings tackle, loneliness. I have been so upset to hear many stories of severe loneliness caused by the lockdown, especially among our older residents.
Second Helpings run a cafe that seeks to bring people together, rich and poor, young and old, to share a meal and meet other people. While they cannot operate the cafe currently, I hope many people will be able to visit and make new friends soon.
Finally, Second Helpings help tackle hunger. As I wrote just last week in this column, so many shops and businesses are suffering and facing difficulty. As we start to open up again, we must all get out there and buy from them. I have been dealing with some heart-breaking local cases where livelihoods have been decimated by this crisis, causing people to fear where their next meal will come from. While government programs will help some of the way, organisations like our very own Second Helpings provide a safety blanket for people.
Food waste, loneliness and hunger - three terrible consequences of this crisis that are the focus and mission of one wonderful group of local volunteers. Let’s all raise a fork to Second Helpings.