Farmer digs deep to help those hit financially by Covid

Potato donation from John Barnett of Soham fights food waste and helps families in need during the pandemic

Potato donation from John Barnett of Soham fights food waste and helps families in need during the pandemic - Credit: CCC

A Soham farmer has donated a ton of fresh potatoes to a charity which fights food waste and helps families struggling economically during Covid-19. 

John Barnett, of Pantile Farm – part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s county farms estate - gave the potatoes to help the Best Before Project. 

The campaign, which as well as combatting food waste, helps low-income families access food for a small donation. 

Best Before does this by redistributing surplus food from supermarkets and other local organisations - especially food which is up to or beyond its Best Before date but still good to eat - through its shop in Bury St Edmunds. 

The organisation also helps to educate consumers about food labelling in general and the difference between the Best Before date and Use By date. 

John Barnett said: “The average family throws away around £700 of food each year, a lot of which is down to people not understanding food labels.  

“Food items that are past their 'best before' dates are perfectly fine to eat and drink. It is only when something is past its 'use by' date, that people should avoid consuming it. 

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“The Best Before initiative works to ensure this food is sold at low cost to the local community through its shop - saving people money and supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society.” 

He said it was particularly helpful in these difficult times.  

“We were delighted to help them with this worthwhile cause by donating potatoes,” he said. 

Three years ago, John won the Coronation Bowl for Best County Farm, with an emphasis on general management and enterprise.  

He impressed the judges with his enthusiasm for farming, diversified enterprises and passion for wildlife and the environment. 

Soham councillor Mark Goldsack is county farms estate champion and chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s commercial and investment committee. 

He said: “I am proud of John for giving such a valuable donation to such a worthwhile organisation.  

“We all have our part to play in helping to reduce food waste and if families struggling during the pandemic can benefit at the same time, we are achieving a double objective.”