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Rushmoor Food Hub to be established

Plans to establish a Rushmoor Food Hub, including a new community-led food store in Aldershot, offering fresh food to residents, has been given the go-ahead by Rushmoor Borough Council.

During the last year, the council has been working closely with partners and volunteers to develop a sustainable, collaborative approach to food provision through developing a local food partnership, including setting up a community store in Aldershot, with a network of community larders, and developing an understanding of future arrangements for Farnborough and North Camp.

Work on establishing partnerships was already under way as part of the council’s coronavirus recovery work, with an increased community awareness of local needs and a willingness from supermarkets to provide donations and reduce food waste.

Rushmoor Borough Councillors approved the proposal to establish a Rushmoor Food Hub at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday March 16.

Andrew Colver, Head of Democracy and Planning, said: “It is almost a year since the first coronavirus lockdown, which acted as the catalyst for strengthening partnerships and bringing together our recovery work and our strategies to tackle economic hardship, physical and mental health and connecting communities, as well as reducing food waste.

“As a result, a charitable partnership is being developed to encourage community food provision across the borough, aiming to reduce stigma and food waste, increase nutritional awareness and connect our communities.

"The Aldershot Community Store is well-located, and we hope will provide a positive interim use for an empty council-owned property in the short-term. The existing council-run food hub will move out of Princes Hall to start the development of the community-led store, offering fresh food and the opportunity for people to give back if they can.”

The site, in Windsor Way, also offers opportunities for other outreach work involving services such as Citizens Advice and NHS health services, as well as a possible Men’s Shed initiative.

The set-up for the site is being funded by grants for food provision, and once established, a community food partnership charity will become the tenant, entering a short-term lease with the council for a period of two years.

A planning application for a change of use was granted at a Development Management Committee meeting of the council on Wednesday March 17.

Councillors were also updated about other initiatives within the Rushmoor Food Hub project, including work at Park Church, in Aldershot, which plans to open a community larder in the church car park. The larder at the church, in Church Lane East, is expected to open in April this year. Aldershot Town Football Club is also looking to set up a larder when fans can be welcomed back to the ground.

Work has also begun on exploring provision for Farnborough and North Camp, with lots of interest from individuals, businesses, organisations and charities, following community responses to the pandemic. The partnership plans to develop work in this area.

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