Environmentalist Kate McFarland is the Project Co-ordinator of Still Good Food, a Bury St Edmunds based charity which aims to reduce food waste through redistribution. Here the Chair of Trustees talks about getting charity status last month and plans for the future
Both sets of my grandparents were farmers, so I’ve always had a very special bond with the environment. Looking at things growing has always made me happy, especially now I have a mini greenhouse! As a child I told my friends off if they littered – and I spent most of my time up to my eyeballs in mud!
I studied one unit on waste management at university and I was hooked. I learnt about products with inbuilt obsolescence. I just remember being so confused, thinking why? And how is this allowed?! Following on from there I’ve worked in several different waste and recycling roles and all of them have been challenging but incredibly rewarding. Plus, it always gives you something to talk about!
Still Good Food launched under the umbrella of the Best Before Project in 2017. I helped to set up the shop and volunteered there while I was on maternity leave. Since then, we have started out on our own and got charity status in March this year. It was quite a slog, but I think the amount of support we are giving and receiving shows it was worth it. I am now the Chair of Trustees for the Charity.
Still Good Food responded magnificently to the pandemic – our volunteers have been incredible. It took us a couple of weeks to find our feet, and then we hit the ground running. We went from opening two days a week, to six, and from serving 40 customers a week, to about 150! We’re opening seven days a week if you include our new trial pop up shop at Freedom Church in Great Barton. Local businesses have also been amazing at supporting us. We had so many great donations from places like the Dog and Partridge and Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds.
I think the reuse and repair word is getting out and buying second hand has become very normalised. Even reusable menstrual products are for sale in mainstream shops these days. I’m hoping, when the pandemic has passed, some of our reusable cups will come out again!
I’m half Greek, so food is how we show love, as well as share sorrow and joy (and probably some passive aggressive remarks about weight loss and gain as well, if I’m honest!). Joking aside, it’s a really important part of my cultural heritage. I just wish I was as good at cooking as I am at eating!!
I mentioned about the trial pop up at Freedom Church. I can’t wait to see how that goes over the next few weeks and see what plans come from that. We’re looking at larger premises in Bury and will be planning to grow sustainably. We’re always looking for new donations and people to work with, so things never stay the same for long!