New ‘squeeze’ to acclaimed Harrogate Food Charity which helps households in difficulty

Founder of acclaimed community grocery service Resurrected Bites, Michelle Hayes, said the charity is seeing increasing demand for its services while its own costs are increasing.

As a result, the charity, which relies on the hard work of a small army of volunteers, now has to come up with £3,000 each month to meet the deficit.

“We believe our community groceries are needed more than ever as the cost of living crisis is affecting so many people, including many who are working,” said Michelle Hayes.

Flashback to 2011 when Resurrected Bites opened a new grocery store in Knaresborough by the Gracious St Methodist Church. Pictured are Rev. Gordon Hay and General Manager Carolyn Aitken.

“Our finances are challenging as our average income per month over the last 10 months has been £4,750 and basic running costs average £7,650.

“This means we have to come up with around £3,000 each month to cover our basic running costs.

“But if we factor in things we’ve had to buy, like fridges and freezers, our average bills over the last 10 months have actually been £9,100 a month.”

Resurrected Bites was originally founded in Harrogate and Knaresborough in 2018 to combat food waste and raise awareness of a situation in Harrogate Borough where around a third of all food is wasted.

But it quickly transitioned to supporting the growing number of people affected by food poverty.

As of March 2020, the charity was operating three weekly cafes across the district.

Resurrected Bites’ services now include “Give As You Can” cafes, where people can stop by for a delicious meal and make a donation of what they think the meal is worth or can afford, and a community food program, intended exclusively for people living in food poverty.

West Park United Reformed Church, Harrogate, HG1 1EQ (cafe).

Gracious Street Methodist Church, Knaresborough, HG5 8AN (Cafe & Grocery Store).

New Park Community Hub, New Park Primary Academy, Skipton Road, Harrogate, HG1 3HF (grocery store).

Like many other charities, Resurrected Bites has had a rough few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the first lockdown, their cafes had to close temporarily.

Instead, the organization provided free home deliveries of food and essentials to vulnerable families and individuals across Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale, Boroughbridge, Ripon and Ouseburn.

But the cost of living crisis means Resurrected Bites now expects its services to be used by people who can no longer afford to keep their heating on.

“We registered as a warm welcome space so people can warm up when they can’t turn on the heat at home and get a hot meal at the same time,” said Michelle Hayes.

“It’s all on a give-as-you-can basis, so nobody has to freeze and starve on Wednesdays and Fridays when our cafes are open.”

The charity thrives on fundraising, grants and the hard work of an army of volunteers.

Michelle Hayes said: “We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing and dedicated team.

“We have about 150 volunteers and five part-timers, but we need more and more, especially we need help with some of the food collections.

“If someone wants to volunteer, there’s a section on our website.”

Resurrected Bites works with shops, cafes, supermarkets and Fareshare (fareshare.org.uk) to keep quality food out of landfill.

In doing so, it turns what might be waste into meals at its cafes and makes it available to families through its community food program.

Since the pandemic threat has receded, Resurrected Bites has faced a new problem.

The end of the lockdown combined with the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades has resulted in a drop in the amount of quality, surplus food the charity is able to source.

“We’re seeing an increase in demand for our services, but a decrease in the amount of surplus food we’re getting,” said Michelle Hayes.

“We’re at a point where we have to start buying significant amounts of food to meet demand.”

Resurrected Bites is stepping up its fundraising efforts. It will be attending the Knaresborough Artisan Market on November 5th and December 3rd.

They are also hosting a benefit concert at St Mark’s Church in Harrogate on Saturday 12th November. Tickets are available through Eventbrite or at the box office.

But all of these efforts take time away from their core activities of helping people get through the winter.

“We need to cover our shortfall through fundraising and grants to maintain our reserves for six months,” said Michelle Hayes, “which is where we want to be as we want to ensure stability for our staff and service users.

“Fundraising and grants writing are very time consuming and take away the ability to focus on other areas of the organization.

“We are appealing to businesses and individuals with disposable income to support Resurrected Bites monthly to help fill our cost gap.

If there are local food businesses who have a good surplus they would like to donate, please contact Resurrected Bite via the website www.resurrectedbites.co.uk. If you would like to make a food donation or find out more visit www.resurrectedbites.co.uk/#getinvolved

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