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Council chair praises healthy food project for people in need

Councillor Brett (second from left) with volunteers at Denton Island Community Kitchen
Councillor Brett (second from left) with volunteers at Denton Island Community Kitchen

The Chair of Lewes District Council has visited an "inspirational" community food project as part of her focus on helping to make healthy food accessible to everyone across the district.

Councillor Christine Brett, who has chosen "improving food security" as her theme of office, was recently given a tour of Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) based at Denton Island Community Centre in Newhaven.

SCDA supports community projects for vulnerable people across East Sussex including running a food bank service and the newly-established Newhaven Community Supermarket which uses produce from the charity network Fareshare. Volunteers at Denton Island Community Kitchen also use some of this produce to prepare "ready to reheat" meals, ensuring people in need have access to healthy and nutritious food.

Councillor Brett said: "I was particularly interested in seeing SCDA's important work in helping to increase food security, involve and empower residents and reduce food waste.

"It was inspirational to see how these activities have grown into such a community asset in recent years.

"Much of the work is carried out by volunteers who made me very welcome and shared their sense of fun as they went about their tasks. It was staggering to see the in-date meat and vegetables donated by supermarkets to Fareshare, which would otherwise be thrown away, and the way that volunteers made it into delicious, creative meals."

High demand for the food bank service meant that SCDA was delivering more than 200 food parcels a week across Newhaven and Peacehaven at the height of lockdown last year.

Stef Lake, SCDA food security project manager, said: "It was great to have an opportunity to show Councillor Brett the work we are doing to improve food security in our local area, and in particular how we are trying to reduce food waste in tandem with providing food for people in crisis.

"We also discussed the development of Lewes District Food Partnership, which will aim to build connected food security across the district. There has been a huge increase in the number of people who rely on our services and we are really keen to give people as much autonomy and agency as we can, whilst also addressing the underlying causes of food poverty."

Councillor Brett pledged her ongoing support to the community food project and praised SCDA's work on the holiday activities and food project (HAF) for children on benefits-related free school meals.

SCDA is also launching a new project called Seahaven Community Food Stories which invites people to share their favourite recipe and the story behind it. For more information or to get involved visit seahavenfood on Facebook or www.sussexcommunity.org.uk.