The Bread and Butter Thing is a charity dedicated to helping families in financial hardship in deprived areas of Manchester. As a trustee of the charity, I was keen to see the operation in practice and thought the best way to do so was to join the volunteers on one of their runs.

We started by setting up rows of trestle tables using space provided by the Compassion Food Bank in Manchester, and then offloaded boxes of food from the brand new, refrigerated Mercedes van recently donated to the charity by The Morrisons Foundation. The van is emblazoned with a livery designed by bd2 as part of our support in donating the brand, marketing and website.

The food is sourced from a partnership with Fare Share, a national charity which redistributes surplus food from retailers such as Morrisson, Asda and Booths as well as major food manufacturers. The provisions are, inevitably, somewhat random as they’re an assortment of whatever the retailers had left over, typically short dated stock.

Everything from the packing cases and trays is unloaded onto the tables in piles from sausage rolls and gala pies to bread, milk and fresh produce. We then collated a selection of groceries into bags for families, and the same process for singles, trying to keep the contents consistent within the limitations of what was there – two packs of biscuits, one bottle of milk, a quiche, a pack of oranges and so on.

The packing process was interrupted though by a dash back to the Fare Share warehouse as they’d just taken delivery of some fresh fish which needed to go straight out. We where then able to add a rather appetising array of some high quality ready meals with salmon, prawns, cod and haddock each of which would’ve been priced around £5 a pack so a real bonus.

The van then headed off, somewhat later than usual because of the added fish, to a couple of drop offs in the Moss Side area for distribution to the Bread and Butter Thing members who pay just £5 for what must’ve been £50 to £60 worth of produce. There’s no doubt the supplies make a massive difference to these families who are struggling to make ends meet.

The charity is currently operating from 3 hubs and is delivering groceries to over 60 families a week. The new van will enable the charity to increase its capacity to existing hubs but potentially add further areas and, in conjunction with Fare share, Oldham is being researched as well as additional hubs in existing areas.