A free food initiative set up by a pub in the wake of this winter’s devastating flooding is going from strength to strength.
Mark Cutter, landlord at The Robert Gillow pub in Lancaster, launched the scheme in the wake of Storm Desmond in December when the pub had a surplus of food to use up.
And the roaring success meant he has continued with the idea and now offers free food throughout the day from the Market Street venue.
In the last week they have also distributed 1,200 boxes of cereal to schoolchildren and community groups.
Mark said: “From the minute we open until we close there’s a table of food and soup all the time, changing throughout the day to include breakfast and healthy foods, salads and soup.”
The Robert Gillow works with several suppliers, including the Lancashire branch of national organisation FareShare, who distribute food which is unable to be sold due to issues such as its expiry date or rebranding.
Last week they sent three pallets of cereal boxes to the pub, which would otherwise have gone to waste due to having a short ‘best before’ date.
Mark said: “Initially we joked that we could make the world’s biggest rice krispie cake, but we then contacted various schools.
“At Willow Lane, Skerton St Luke’s and St Joseph’s and Cathedral schools, every child took home a pack of cereal and a leaflet about our project. That was 800 boxes.
“We also gave boxes to Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Dallas Road School and Lancaster Boys’ and Girls’ Club for their breakfast clubs.
“In total we gave away 1,200 boxes of cereal.”
Mark said the initiative aims to help social inclusion as well as those struggling to pay for meals.
“It generally works on the basis that it’s free for everyone, so that no one feels any stigma using it,” he said.
“For people having to make a choice between eating or coming out and meeting people, they can come out and have something to eat and be with people. That social aspect and community cohesion is really important.
“We have had homeless people sitting in the pub alongside people drinking champagne celebrating a birthday. Everyone gets along; it’s working perfectly.”