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"Help us help food banks or we can't survive" - Food for Nought's desperate plea

Food for Nought, which caters to Peterborough's food banks and community fridges, is desperate for community support - or fears closure. 

Peterborough-based charity Food for Nought has delivered surplus food from local farmers and supermarkets to food banks and community fridges for five years – saving more than 3,000 tonnes from from going into landfills.  

It was set up by Cocoa Fowler following his own personal battles with homelessness and health issues, to help the community.

Nearly a dozen food banks and community fridges benefit from Cocoa’s efforts each week – where hundreds of people are fed. 

But, things are not looking great for team Food for Nought as the charity says it's “struggling to meet day-to-day running costs” including rising fuel costs for the charity’s three vans, which has had an effect on deliveries to food fridges across the city. 

Cocoa says it costs around £500 to just fuel the vans each month. A fundraiser was launched a few weeks ago, but hasn’t had much success. 

In a plea to Peterborough residents, businesses, local authorities and community groups, Cocoa Fowler has urged support for his charity or he fears that will be the end of it. 

He said: “It’s a ridiculous situation. We are trying to scramble through whatever money we have but we are just about scraping together for our everyday costs. 

“Our biggest core costs are the fuel and van maintenance; the rent for the community centre project we were looking to initiate.

“We haven't been able to pay rent for three months now. But the landlady has been so generous in giving us the premises for £500 - they are being supportive. But we have just not had that kind of money. 

“I am applying for grants daily but it doesn't look like we will have that money for the foreseeable future. 

“Everyone - Huntingdonshire District Council and Peterborough City Council are trying to put joint things together but everything takes so long. 

“We were relying on a national lottery grant – quite a large one, but that was not successful so we have to do it again. But the grants take months to come through. 

“We launched a fundraising page but it’s not been a great success yet. 

“We put in a lot of effort – I can't understand how this has happened? It pains me to be in this situation. 

“So many communities are benefiting from us and we have a list of six more centres requesting our help. But we are already struggling to help the 12 places on our lists due to the high running costs. 

“Some of the centres we drop food off give us some money for the year and without that we wouldn’t have been able to cope. But this message is for authorities.

“The people we are serving are from Huntingdonshire and Peterborough and we're doing our bit for food poverty alongside the charities and food banks.  

“Everyone keeps saying the government needs to do more for food poverty. In reality we work with excess food and once we get the centre up and running we could easily half the demand of food poverty.  

“There’s a huge demand for food- we probably help feed about 100 people each centre each day so you can do the figures. We are well into thousands of how many people we help. And usually within an hour of us delivering the food, it’s all gone. 

“But we are limited on how much we can deliver. We are restricted with our resources and I don’t what the answer is 

“My message for the communities of Peterborough is to ask people in power - whether it’s local politicians, local media or whether it’s council or government – to back us and echo the message that we are struggling. 

“We have launched a fundraising page and would say every pound helps. We would be grateful for any support we can get.” 

You can support Cocoa Fowler and the team of Food for Nought here.