May 17th, 2024.

Paula Woolven, the founder of Havens Food Cooperative, has come out fighting what she calls: "The complete apathy and lack of response to the current food crisis being faced by people needing immediate support in the Havens area."

Local food banks are running at capacity and having to turn away new requests for support. Seahaven Community Food (SCDA Community Supermarkets) in Newhaven and Peacehaven put a hold on new members joining three weeks ago, followed by Newhaven Baptist Church announcing that their food bank is also unable to accept new clients as a temporary measure.

Paula explains: "Unprecedented levels of demand for support have caused these front-line charities to take these understandable measures to ensure their current members, numbering in the hundreds, continue to receive weekly food parcels, but it means that anyone finding themselves desperate for the first time, is now unable to sign up for support."

Havens Food Cooperative is the only food waste prevention and rapid redistribution pantry in the Havens, collecting the 'yellow stickered' food that supermarkets throw away nightly and feeding the community for free. Paula's team of over 35 volunteers collect from 18 supermarkets 364 days a year and redistributes nearly half a million pounds worth of still-edible perishable food to food banks, small groups, families and individuals between Saltdean and Seaford.

"Although Havens Food Cooperative isn't set up as an actual food bank, we are the only current option for people finding themselves in severe need in the Newhaven and Peacehaven area today," explains Paula.

"I am astounded by the total lack of action by the local authorities and organisations that you would expect to step in and deal with the current crisis. We seem to be the only ones trying to find a solution to this unacceptable situation.

"I was contacted by a social worker this week to see if we could help an elderly client who found himself unable to sign up for a local emergency food provider and who had been placed in one-room emergency hostel with no bathroom or kitchen. There was nowhere else for him to turn.

"Havens Food Cooperative delivered him emergency supplies and hygiene products, and we have agreed, as a temporary measure, to supply the hostel with weekly supplies to support the 19 families and individuals in emergency accommodation to replace their former supplier. We are receiving daily requests like this.

"I understand and support the actions of the emergency food providers and food banks that have had to close their lists to protect their current clients, but there has been no response from those organisations or councils that we would expect to step in."

I have contacted our local MP's and haven't even had a response."

"I also contacted Councillor Zoe Nicholson, the Leader of Lewes District Council and she has responded positively, so we hope that something can be done quickly."

To donate food to the Newhaven Baptist Church go to:

To donate food to Seahaven Community Food go to: Community Food • SCDA -

To make a donation to Havens Community Hub (Havens Food Coop) go to: Havens Community Hub CIC | Localgiving
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