Tom Arthur, MSP for Renfrewshire South and Cllr Emma Rodden visited Lochwinnoch Community Larder last week and met with Tori, Caroline, Mike and the rest of the team there to see the facility and hear of their plans for the future.

Lochwinnoch Community Larder is a grassroots organisation run mostly by volunteers and started it’s journey as a food-parcel delivery service during the first period of restrictions in 2020. The group have evolved into a far-reaching project with many strings to it’s bow and is open to all members of the village community.

It is a sub-group of Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP), a registered charity who have been well established in the village for many years. Their main purpose is to provide food, at no cost, to anyone in the Community who has need for it. The Community Larder’s aim is reducing food waste and food miles whilst simultaneously creating opportunities for community engagement.

They redistribute good-quality surplus food, which would otherwise be going in landfill, and locally grown fresh produce, in doing so the group also brings people of Lochwinnoch together in a social and inclusive space.
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Their ethos is underpinned by an ambition to tackle food insecurity in the local area. To that end, the Community Larder encourage everyone to use the service, because even if they can afford to buy new, their engagement masks food poverty for others who can then access food in a dignified way.

Commenting after the visit, Tom Arthur said: “It was an absolute pleasure to finally get along to the Community Larder in Lochwinnoch and see first hand the inspiring work that they do for the local Community.

“It is amazing to see an organisation like this, borne out of necessity during difficult times for all, grow and develop into a local asset. I am pleased that the Larder and their service users have benefitted from funding sources like Scotland Loves Local, National Lottery Community Fund and Renfrewshire Council.

“If you live in Lochwinnoch and want to learn more about the Community Larder, take a look at their new website www.myleapproject.org”

Lochwinnoch Community Larder Project Officer Tori Bell added: “Our project has been a brilliant opportunity to bring our community together; We have up to 300 Service Users each week from diverse groups.

“People here have really bought in to the idea of the Larder being for everyone, because this food is going in the bin if they don’t take it. Not only is this dignified food provision in a community where the next nearest food bank is 10 miles away, it’s a place people come for human contact. We offer cups of tea and a chat to anyone who needs a bit of company, and we help to signpost and link visitors to other support services where relevant.

“Together with the launch of our new seed bank via our Diggin’ It project, and our ongoing Feel Good Festival, we’re improving wellbeing and building resilience locally.”

Cllr Emma Rodden, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch said:

“Organisations like Lochwinnoch Community Larder were not only vital during the worst of the pandemic, but continue to be so as we rebuild our communities and turn our attentions to recovery.

With a focus on minimising environmental impact, projects like this should be commended and encouraged, our plight to combat climate change at a local level is made easier by people like Tori and her team.

“They are fundraising at the moment to reach a range of objectives, more details can be found on their crowdfunding page at www.gofundme.com/f/lochwinnoch-community-larder.”

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