Not junk food at all!

In just six months, more than 600 boxes of bread, pastries, fruit and vegetables have been diverted from waste and transformed into hundreds of meals on the Isle of Wight. A new trial partnership between The Co-operative Food in Freshwater and The Real Junk Food Project IOW has already made a significant difference to the community.

Organiser of The Real Junk Food Project IOW, Faith Stickland said that the food donations have been turned into hundreds of three-course meals, filled dozens of lunch boxes and supported a number of struggling families via the foodbank. The project with a number of food stores and local producers to prevent useable products going to landfill including food, toiletries and cleaning products.

Organisers use the donated products in three different ways – in a monthly community Meet and Eat at St Saviours Church in Totland run by Timebank volunteers; to make daily collections of products available to the public on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis at the West Wight Sport and Community Centre; and through a new lunchbox scheme during school holidays.

Faith said: “None of this would have happened without the Southern Co-op store in Freshwater being prepared to do extra work helping sort food out that would otherwise have been thrown away. The Store Manager Neil has been exceptional. He has come to our Meet and Eats on two occasions bringing a colleague with him to show how the food is being made good use of.

“I’d also like to say a big thank you to Sally from Timebank who initiated the Meet and Eat cook ups and covers the costs. We are a very caring community. It becomes infectious! Thank you for your part in all this.”

Other supporters include Sainsbury’s Local, Freshwater, and The Village Store, in Brighstone, which all supply food that can safely be offered to the community.

Neil Riley, Store Manager, said: “From a store perspective it has been a big success. The processes are very well embedded and the communication is very open and honest.

“We understand that this is a team effort. The social implications of the food we donate have been far reaching. From the occasional involvement I have had with some of the programmes, I think it’s obvious to see the great success this partnership has been. I’m immensely proud to be a part of the Real Junk Food Project Isle of Wight network and especially proud we have been able to support Faith in her endeavours. She truly is an inspirational woman with a passion for doing good in her community.”

The store currently donates around nine boxes and tubs of fruit, vegetables, pastries and bread three times a week which works out more than 700 in the first six months.

To find out more about the projects run by the real Junk Food Project IOW, email