New £20k funding for community food project in Lochalsh

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The future of the Community Fridge in Kyle has been secured for a further year and a new community food growing project will start soon in Lochalsh with £20,000 of funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust has been awarded the funding to continue, expand and find permanent premises for the Community Fridge in Kyle and to start a new community food growing project in three pilot areas in Lochalsh.

The project will be co-ordinated by Annie Chalmers who has been running the Community Fridge since it was set up more than a year ago.

The Community Fridge was set up during Covid as a food share scheme to address low income and food waste. To date it has redistributed more than 4,000 kilos of food from local shops – the Kyle Co-op and the Spar Shop in Balmacara – to benefit local people and has prevented the food from being sent to landfill.

The Community Fridge is open six days a week with 60 to 90 household visits a week and is also used as a drop-off point for the southern branch of the Community Foodbank, Skye and Lochalsh.

With the kind support of the Church of Scotland, the community fridge is currently housed in the church hall on Church Road.

The Community Fridge has been run so far using a series of small grants which
covered the cost of the co-ordinator on 45 hours a month, supported by six volunteers,
however this funding was due to run out at the end of October.

With this funding, the Community Food co-ordinator’s role will be extended to 25 hours a week for a year, allowing Annie to expand the Community Fridge by developing recipe cards and cookery classes throughout Lochalsh; researching and securing permanent premises and setting up community food growing projects in three areas of Lochalsh where land can be identified.

One of the community growing projects will be in Kyle and organisers are talking to another potential partner, but if your community can identify land and is interested in developing a community growing project, please get in touch with the trust through social media or the website.

Funding to buy equipment and three community polytunnels is being applied for from other funders. This is the first project developed as a result of the Lochalsh Community Survey which is part of the Lochalsh Collaborates project led by Community Development Officer Susan Walker and funded by the Scottish Government.

Almost 600 survey responses from an adult population of 2,000 showed that 72 per cent wanted action on waste reduction; 299 people wanted improved access to land for community growing, including polytunnels, allotments or orchards and 294 people wanted this for individuals.

During Covid lockdown, the interest in Lochalsh in growing and processing food locally was made clear. Six growing/foraging/cooking digital events organised during lockdown attracted up to 100 attendees per event.

The project will also reduce loneliness and increase wellbeing and physical fitness. The need for action on these topics was also identified in the community survey.

Maggie Byrne, chairperson of Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust, welcomed the news, and said: ‘We are delighted this funding will secure the Community Fridge for another year, giving it time to expand its services and the number of beneficiaries and seek longer term funding.

‘The project will address food waste, give new training to people about how to reduce food waste and how to grow, cook and preserve their own food, reducing food miles, increasing local food resilience and making the area more healthy and more sustainable.

‘This funding commitment is already demonstrating how important our community survey will be in demonstrating to funders what our community wants and needs. The next step is to write our community action plan, then there will be no holding Lochalsh back.’

CAPTION:

The project will be co-ordinated by Annie Chalmers, who has been running the Community Fridge since it was set up more than a year ago.

NO F46 Annie Chalmers