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Jean-Paul Dunin - Project Manager

Community is heartbeat of fruit and veg project

Right in the centre of Hastings there is a quiet revolution of the archetypal 5-a-day programme set up by the government to improve the health of the nation.

Set up by the health authority around 6 years ago, the original 5-a-day provided sound advice around the nutritional benefits of healthy eating with little else involved.

Around three years ago the Big Lottery Fund started their campaign to ‘Eat fresh, eat local’, providing more funding, and the Community Fruit & Veg Project was born.

Whilst the aim of promoting healthy eating remains the same, Jean-Paul Dunin, the project manager, is keen to point out that it is now very much a social enterprise, with wider community issues integral to the heart of its policy-making.

The project revolves around sourcing locally grown fruit and veg (mostly within a 35-mile radius of Hastings) and making it available at reasonable cost to households. They achieve this in a number of ways:

  1. The box scheme, where individual boxes can be purchased online (first order half price!), picked up at collection points or, for a small fee, delivered to door;
  2. Social food outlets, such as community centres;
  3. Retail sales, with nine outlets currently being serviced;
  4. Stalls and markets.

Alongside this, the project encompasses a holistic approach whereby they plough profits (it is a non-profit making company) into education about nutrition through events, visiting schools and leafleting.

One of Jean-Paul’s aims is to educate local children in simple ways such as understanding that sweet corn comes from corn on the cob!

Their most innovative method of educating is the hiring out of a ‘smoothie bike’ where pedal power takes on a whole new meaning!

Whilst the project only has a small team of paid employees (Jean-Paul plus four part-timers), they do have a committed team of around 20 volunteers and are on the look-out for more. They also have a big vision: says  Jean-Paul, “Our vision is to have between 500 and 1,000 households that are supplied through the project.”

In summary Jean-Paul likened the project to a win/win situation for the whole community. In using them:

  1. Local farmers are supported to grow seasonal produce;
  2. Local communities are supported by the re-investment of profits;
  3. Local well-being is supported by great local food;
  4. Food education and contact with nature are supported through the scheme.

Remember there is 50% off the first order so why not try it out today?

Jean-Paul is available to speak to anyone who would like further information about any of the services they can provide, on 01424 201137 during working hours Monday to Friday.

Their website is www.fruitandveg.org and email: info@fruitandveg.org

Posted 15:35 Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011 In: Food & Drink

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