The Bread and Butter Thing to open new food hub in North Tyneside

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Surplus food distribution charity The Bread and Butter Thing is expanding its service across the region with a new hub set to open in North Tyneside.

The Bread and Butter Thing – known simply as TBBT – was launched in Manchester in 2016 and moved into the North East in March 2020 with the opening of a centre in Darlington, County Durham, just as the first national Coronavirus lockdown came into force. Now the community organisation is bringing its innovative affordable food service to Howdon from April 1 in partnership with North Tyneside Council.

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The project will launch at Family Gateway’s Howdon Community Hub and provide access to low-cost food alongside a programme of wrap-around services offering financial, employment and health support. Four further hubs are already being planned across the borough for this year.

TBBT collects surplus food and staple goods that often end up going to waste from supermarkets, factories, and farms and distributes it at a discount price through community hubs. It currently redistributes more than 100 tonnes of food a week, equating to 250,000 meals and ensures that surplus food goes to the people who need it most.

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For just £7.50, TBBT members’ shopping bags can be filled with an average of £35 worth of items made up of quality, nutritious food. Each week members can access three bags of produce, including fresh fruit and vegetables, chilled goods, as well as cupboard staples such as pasta and cereal.

The Bread and Butter Thing to open new food hub in North Tyneside
© The Bread and Butter Thing The Bread and Butter Thing is bringing its affordable food service to Howdon in North Tyneside.

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Because the food comes from surplus stock, what’s offered varies from day-to-day, offering members variety. Low-cost sanitary products are also available and families can use their NHS Healthy Start vouchers.

North Tyneside Council has invested in the initiative through its Poverty Intervention Fund, which aims to help reduce the impact of financial hardship on families and individuals and address the many ways living on a low income can affect people.

TBBT’s chief executive, Mark Game, said: “I’m delighted to be bringing our affordable food clubs to North Tyneside at a time when rising costs of living are forcing people on low incomes to make stark choices between heating and eating. TBBT is about creating routes out of poverty and creating resilient communities.

“Our members tell us that over 80% of them have previously had to skip meals to feed their families. By using TBBT, most save at least £25 a week on their food budgets with the added benefits of better quality and a bigger variety of food. This leads to healthier lifestyles and puts money back in people’s pockets.”

Within the last year, TBBT has doubled its reach from its Greater Manchester origins. A second TBBT warehouse opened in County Durham in November 2020, new vans have taken the fleet to 13, and almost 60 hubs are now operational across the North of England, including 18 in the North East. The charity’s first Yorkshire hub is also about the launch.

The Bread and Butter Thing to open new food hub in North Tyneside
© The Bread and Butter Thing The Bread and Butter Thing collects surplus food and staple goods that often end up going to waste from supermarkets, factories, and farms and distributes it at a discount price through community hubs.

Family Gateway, which will be hosting TBBT at its Howdon Community Hub, is an award-winning child poverty charity. Chief executive Julie Marriott said a combination of the Covid pandemic and the rising cost of living has seen a rise in the number of people struggling financially.

She said: “We are really pleased to be working with TBBT and North Tyneside Council to bring this new service to the community in Howdon. We’ve been along to visit one of TBBT’s hubs and heard first-hand about the difference it is making to the people who use the service.

“A combination of the impact of Covid-19 and rising living costs has meant we’re seeing more and more people struggling to make ends meet. The Hub has been open throughout the pandemic supporting the community, including providing meals during the lockdowns.

“Now we are looking forward to welcoming more people back. We’ve got lots of exciting things planned, such as developing a new community garden, where we can grow our own fruit and veg.”

Councillor Karen Clark, North Tyneside Council’s cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, added: “We want North Tyneside to be a place where nutritious and affordable food is accessible to everyone, but we know that this is becoming increasingly difficult for many as living costs continue to rise. This new service will make a difference to hundreds of residents who are struggling, not only by providing a more affordable alternative and enabling their budget to stretch further, but also by offering other kinds of support and advice.”

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