ATTFE College provides adult and further education opportunities to learners across Nottinghamshire. The ‘Let’s All Eat’ project was created by ATTFE after recognising some of their learners, as well as the wider community, were facing difficulties with food insecurity and poverty.
Since its creation, Let’s All Eat has continued to grow their support services to match the rising level of need across the county. Lee Brazier, Partnership and Community Lead, explains “We have several food hubs, which include social supermarkets. We also have a food bank and a social eating hub. The people we support come from all walks of life, some are in short term need of support, some have deeper set concerns and need long term support. The number varies, but we support around 150/200 people on a weekly basis with our food hubs. Since November 1st, we have provided 1,200 free meals to the community in Ollerton and at Christmas, we provided 170 meals to the community in Sutton-in-Ashfield. Since the start of the pandemic, we have delivered over 25,000 emergency food parcels.”
Let’s All Eat became a FareShare Midlands member in 2016, receiving a mixture of fresh, frozen, chilled and store cupboard goods to support their varied food services. For just £3.50 per week, people are able to collect a wide range of food from a Let’s All Eat hub which, Lee explains, “allows us to educate people more on what they can make with food they may not ordinarily use and it allows people to try new foods.”
In 2022, Let’s All Eat signed up to FareShare Midlands’ new Community Meals Service to receive regular deliveries of pre-made, catering-size meals to add to their already extensive food service. The meals are used at Let’s All Eat’s food hubs, and when practical, support the social eating events ran in partnership with Lifespring Church in Ollerton. Lee adds that their latest delivery of chicken pies “went down a storm!”
The partnership with Lifespring has proven very successful for both organisations, and helps to support the community with more than just food. “People within the community have come together, who may ordinarily have never interacted, and have created new friendships. It is also providing a warm space and helping to tackle loneliness and improve mental health conditions that are caused by social isolation. We have also discovered that some of the people accessing our Tuesday night social eating hub are homeless or in temporary housing, and this has been a lifeline for them accessing a warm meal.”
When asked if they have seen an impact as a result of the Cost of Living Crisis, Lee explains “more people are struggling with all bills, especially food. We have seen up to 65 people accessing services weekly, compared to around 45/50 in the past. We have seen in increase in middle class families who are struggling more due to finances stretched more than ever. A lot of those who we support have children within the household, meaning that children are gaining access to good quality and nutritious food.”
Finally, when asked on the benefits of receiving food and meals through FareShare Midlands, Lee said “working in partnership with Fareshare has meant that we have been able to get good quality food to more people at a time when need is at it greatest. Any fresh food that we have remaining at our Ollerton Thursday food hub, goes to the café at Lifespring for their community lunch, so that nothing is wasted and we are working to support as many people in the community. Having this food has meant that money has been able to go further and allows us to provide more services to those who access. We ensure those that need it, get a warm meal every week, that is nutritious"