The woman who’s been tackling food waste and feeding her community for two years

Prior to the first lockdown in 2020, Wendy Baverstock had no experience in collecting and distributing food. Like many people across the country, she delivered food parcels during the pandemic, but she has never stopped doing it.

The Henbury and Brentry Community Centre manager once thought that when the restrictions were lifted she would no longer have to continue with food collections and could go back to just managing the centre. She said that the “food is needed even more now” and the food supports the community cafe as well as saves tonnes of food that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

In two years, Wendy has distributed what amounts to almost 200,000 meals and made around 250,000 kilograms of savings in carbon emissions. She was selected by Bake Off 2021 winner, Giuseppe Dell’Anno for the recent BBC Radio Bristol’s Making a difference award in the environment category.

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Giuseppe said; “This case struck a chord with me because not only did she fight against a lot of logistical and technical challenges to avoid wasting food but she redistributed it to the weakest part of society.” As she collected her award, jokes were exchanged about her car bumper which fell off at one point due to the amount of weight her car had carried.

The food she collects gets cooked up and used for the subsidised cafe or is held in the community fridge, freezer or in supermarket crates for people to collect. Some of it gets put in the storage room that is given as an emergency supply to people in a time of crisis who are then referred to support services to help them get back on their feet.

Wendy feels that although there is a local food bank, it is always held on a Friday and is mostly tinned food. With the community centre being open everyday, people have the flexibility to come at a convenient time and can also get fresh fruit and vegetables.

Wendy Baverstock, of Henbury and Brentry Community Centre continued collecting and distributing food beyond the pandemic because she saw there was still a need for it and she didn’t want it to go to waste.
(Image: James Beck/BristolLive)

Wendy said: “I still continued [the food collections] because I was shocked at the amount of waste. We use it in the cafe and we make food parcels out of it as well.

“People just take what they need, they’re not greedy. Very rarely I’ve got to tell someone to put a bit back, which is nice really.

“It does make me really tired and there are days when I get fed up, especially when you hear negative comments or people trying to have a go at you, it makes you quite annoyed. And then you just get that one person who comes in through the door that just changes that day who says, ‘thank god you’re here because I was on my last potato or bit of milk.’

(Image: Yvonne Deeney)

“Usually, they get to a crisis point before they ask for help. The food banks are really good but they’re on a certain day, our one in Henbury is on a Friday.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t drive and if you’re a mother with two or three kids, that’s quite a difficult task carrying a heavy bag full of tins.

“At the end of the day it’s tins, it’s an emergency supply for three days. What I’m seeing is that people want more fresh vegetables.

“After Covid I thought I’d be able to stop the food and then things would go back to normal and there’d be no need. But food is even more needed during the cost of living [crisis] now.

“If you go to the supermarket now a [big] bag of potatoes is £2, that’s quite expensive especially if you have a large family. I think people are spending a lot more on food than they were previously because everything’s just gone through the roof with inflation.

“Food packets are smaller and as we all know with the gas and electric, everything has gone up and wages and benefits have not gone up in line with that. I’m finding not just people that you know are on a low income that are struggling but there are actually people who are coming in that I wouldn’t expect to see.

“There was a chap who popped by the other day and just took two loaves of bread and left. It’s all those little things that make the difference, if they’re saving here and there, it’s just a little bit of an extra helping hand.”

Alongside managing Henbury and Brentry Community Centre as a full-time volunteer, Wendy Baverstock helps the chef in the kitchen and even drives elderly residents to classes at the community centre.
(Image: Yvonne Deeney)


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