When it comes to reducing waste and feeding those in need, Skye and Lochalsh community groups are rallying to help

The food share scheme is sited at the Broadford Village Hall.

The Free Press takes a look at some of the fantastic food initiatives taking place across Skye and Lochalsh…

Broadford and Strath Community Company

The Broadford and Strath Community Company has begun a meal share project to support people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The community company’s project follows the creation of a food share scheme linked to the Broadford Co-op.

Speaking to the Free Press Broadford and Strath Community Company project coordinator Norma Morrison described the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the island as “devastating” from the outset.

She said: “The first question for every voluntary group was how we could best serve our small, fragile communities.

“Here in Broadford, we have a now-empty community campsite –  Camping Skye – with bookings cancelled and a space that we could potentially utilise.

“Partnership working has always been key for us here and following on from conversations with a volunteer from the Skye and Lochalsh Foodbank, we were alerted to the fact that the Broadford Co-op had food that they could not sell that was going into landfill. 

“The Broadford and Strath Community food share idea had started.”

The first night of the Broadford and Strath Community Food Share was held at Camping Skye and served 12 people.

The food share was also distributed by a delivery service for people who were isolating or had young children so couldn’t get out in the evening.

By the end of the first week, more than 20 people a night had benefitted from the food share initiative and therefore the community company recognised that the project had potential to be developed further.

Norma added: “With support from the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Grant our next step is to carry on with the Food Share, now at the more central Broadford Village Hall, until we have more permanent space for a Community Fridge.

“We know the effects of Covid-19 will carry on for a long time and our Community Fridge Project will bring together the work of the food share, foodbank and hot meals distribution to the local community. 

“The project will tackle both food poverty and social inclusion in addition to dramatically reducing food waste in the community. It will also mean the contribution of local growers is enhanced in the local food supply network.

The meals are prepared on a voluntary basis by John Coghill from the Hebridean Inn.

“Our new project, the Wednesday meal share, had its inaugural delivery on Wednesday 20th May and delivered 90 meals all over Broadford and Strath. The feedback so far has been positive and we are delighted to be able to offer this to folk who may need it. 

“The meals are prepared on a voluntary basis by John Coghill from the Hebridean Inn and distributed by a bank of willing volunteers. Ingredients for the meal are supported through funding from the Corra Foundation and also from food from the Food Share Project.”

The BSCC growers Hub is carrying on with their growing which was started by local school groups and its Flourish group which supports participants with horticultural therapy.

Their produce is already being shared in the Food Share Project and the community company’s aim is to develop even more growing opportunities locally.

Foodshare: Monday to Saturday at 9.40 pm – 10.15 pm at the Broadford Village Hall.
Mealshare: Deliveries every Wednesday afternoon.
For more info contact –  mail@broadfordandstrath.org  

Lochalsh Community Response

Lochalsh Community Response led by Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust have set up a temporary voucher scheme for local people financially impacted by Covid-19.

Residents who are struggling financially in Lochalsh, Kyleakin and Kylerhea are eligible for the scheme.

The service is weekly and is accessible by request.

The scheme is supported by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise and a host of local businesses are involved –  they are Kyle Mace; Kyle Co-op; Lochalsh butchers; Dornie Stores; Inverinate service station; Balmacara Spar and the Glenelg Shop.

The weekly voucher allowance per household is:
£20 – £25 for one person; £30 – £35 for two people; £40 – £45 for three people; and £5 for each additional person.

Commenting on how the service had helped so far, Jo Wawrzyczek, Development Officer at Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust told the Free Press: “It is going very well, it is now the third week of the project and there is an increasing number of people who are asking now.

“We had 10 families in the first week which was a total of 28 people and £935 of food, then we had 15 families in week two and that was a total of 51 people.”

The Lochalsh Community Response also offers a food share programme which is a joint venture between the Lochalsh Youth Community Trust and the Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust.

The blessing box in Kyle

LYCT has been working with the Kyle branch of the Co-op to arrange to take their food waste on the day that it is going out of date to be used for projects within the organisation.

Using the KLCT Covid-19 response helpline, locals are able to call and request food through this programme. 

This programme has also expanded to include the Balmacara Spar, who is graciously donating their food which would otherwise go to waste to Dornie District and Community Council which is overseeing the distribution of it through their blessings box. 

Jo added: “The food share is also really good – we are distributing it to people who have asked us and that’s from the food section in the Co-op.

“Anything that is left is being advertised on Facebook and left for an hour at the blessing box beside the bottle bank at the car park in Kyle. We are also distributing it from Spar in Balmacara that’s going to Dornie, they have set up a blessing box in green behind the Dornie Hotel and they have a little fridge where they put things every day.”

Fresh food is located in the green shed behind the Dornie Hotel until 11 pm. The food is refreshed daily at 5 pm. 

Food voucher scheme: please contact Lochalsh Community Response by email: food@lochalshcommunityresponse.co.uk or number below by 4 pm each Friday to have vouchers posted to you in the following week.

Food share: please contact number below.

Portree and Braes Community Trust

Portree and Braes Trust have been working in conjunction with Tigh Na Drochaid Resource Centre, Portree and Braes Community Council and The Community Foodbank – Skye and Lochalsh to develop a community food share initiative, making products from the smaller Portree Co-op branch in Bank Street available for the Portree and Braes area. 

The project – which is being trialled – was held over two evenings across Thursday and Friday last week from 8 pm – 9.30 pm at the Bank Street branch to gauge local interest and demand. It will also be running this week on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th May at the same time.

Food will be available to everyone, to pick up for free, for themselves, a family member, friend or a neighbour. Social distancing rules will apply.

Going forward the trust hopes to make this food available several times per week and will provide regular updates on our plans.

Working with the local community council the trust would also like to make games, books, and puzzles available for pick up at the food share and are welcoming donations of any of these items.

A drop-off point is available at Jans, Portree, Monday to Friday from 9 am – 3 pm.

Fiona Thomson Development Officer for Portree and Braes Community Trust said: “It’s a simple idea, which has had great success elsewhere. We love that there are so many benefits –  reducing waste, helping people reduce their weekly food bills and making fresh food more accessible.

“The small Coop in Portree responded very positively when we approached them and were keen to work together. 

“Broadford and Strath Community Company has also been very helpful in providing us with advice on how to manage the initiative.”

“People were pleasantly surprised about the range of food and non-food items on offer. It’s a good opportunity for people to come and find out about other initiatives in the area too.

“It’ll run again this next week.”

For more info contact: Skye Community Response: