Community Dine With Me Cardiff - Surplus Food Project

Last night I had the pleasure of volunteering with STAR communities (Splott, Tremorfa, Adamsdown, Roath), at their 'Community dine with me' event in Cardiff. The aim of the Welsh government organisation is to, in partnership with other organisations, address gaps in areas such as health, skills and economic status amongst some of Wales' most deprived communities.

For this event the charity partnered up with local supermarkets FareShare Cymru, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Costco who generously donated food for the evening, that was surplus stock or going out of date. The concept of retail store surplus food distribution and its use to feed the community is a very new concept in Wales, and this evening was a type of pilot event to see what could be created from the surplus food. But it was clear by the full tummies and smiling diners that the event was a success!

Donated sponge cakes

I came to be involved with volunteering for the evening through my friend Lucy who works for STAR communities, who also deliver a regular breakfast club on Wednesday morning in Trinity Community Centre in Cardiff. It was also thanks to her that all of the food was collected from the supermarkets in order to provide the resources for the evening. The other volunteers including myself and my fellow dietetic student friends, arrived 3 hours before the diners in order to help cook and prepare the food that we'd be serving later on.

Crusty sliced bread rolls

Surplus bread
The menu for the night included crusty bread rolls to start, followed by a choice of bacon pasta bake, lasagne and also vegetarian pasta bake accompanied with hand cut chips, garlic bread and salad. Followed by a dessert of victoria sponge cake and strawberries or flavoured ice cream and strawberries. We were even donated squash to drink too and thankfully had the help of a professional chef who generously volunteered his time to help make the night such a big success.

Chef Richie doing his temperature checks on the donated lasagne

There was a great event organiser from STAR Communities, Katie who is the Health, Wellbeing and Older Person's worker, that invited people from the local community to come and share the meal. The majority of whom are currently living in food poverty with their families. Some diners were new to the country, including asylum seekers and refugees, and we were also joined by the local Labour councillor Ed Stubbs. There was a great range of ages sitting down to eat together, from children and their parents, to the elderly who also attend the day centre during the week to enjoy hot food and company.

Some of the wonderful volunteers

The atmosphere in the Moorland community centre where Community Come Dine was held was bustling and happy. People from the community who had never met before were sharing stories and experiences, and were incredibly vocal in their gratitude for the event and about how much they enjoyed the experience. All of which was made possible by the generous food donations given by the supermarkets, which would otherwise have been thrown away. But that was put to exceptionally good use, by feeding over 50 people on the night, with any food that was not eaten was given to people to take home for another meal the following day.

Tired and happy student dietitians, L-R Me, Lucy and Kadri

I had a brilliant time preparing food and waiting on tables, chatting to everyone and getting to know the local community. It showed me that great things can be created from food that would have previously been considered waste and the importance of using this to help the community. The passion of the volunteers was clear for all to see, with one diner jokingly asking me '...if I ever stopped smiling?'. But you couldn't help but smile seeing people who needed it, enjoying the food that had been saved from being discarded thanks to the wonderful volunteers and staff of STAR Communities.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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