Best Before Project in Bury St Edmunds aims to educate and reduce waste

Councillor Julia Wakelam with volunteers and customers at the Best Before Project Shop in Bury St Ed

Councillor Julia Wakelam with volunteers and customers at the Best Before Project Shop in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCI - Credit: Archant

A community project in Bury St Edmunds which aims to reduce waste and save families money is hoping to expand in the new year.

The Best Before Project shop, in Elsey’s Yard off Risbygate Street, educates people about the difference between the ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels on food and drinks.

The project is a non-profit organisation and received locality grant funds from Suffolk County councillor David Nettleton towards intital set-up costs of the shop.

Borough councillor Julia Wakelam, for the town’s Risbygate ward, has now given £300 from her locality budget to enable growth at the shop.

Hilary Whitwell, a key member of the Best Before Project, said: “The average family throws away around £700 of food each year.

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“It is just mad, and a lot of it is simply 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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“We receive food donations from Tesco via our partnership with Fareshare, as well as Far Away Foods in St Johns Street and The Bodhi Tree in The Traverse. “That food is then available in the shop for free or a small donation. In 2018, we want to expand not only in terms of the amount of businesses that donate food to us which will enable us to stay open for more than one day a week but also in the amount of people that we can reach and educate.”

Mrs Wakelam said: “I was delighted when this project started and would like to congratulate Hilary and her helpers as well as the businesses who are supporting them.

“Not only is it directly helping those who take the donated food, but, hopefully, it is also educating us all – no one likes to throw away food if you are a family, just think what you can do with the £700 saved by not throwing away perfectly good food.

“Here in Bury, we have a number of community organisations helping people in crisis such as the Bury Drop-In Centre. It is my hope that as it gets further established, the Best Before Project will be able to work with these groups who are supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

The shop is open every Tuesday from 10am-2pm and is also looking for volunteers to help in store or with food pick-ups.

For more information about the project visit its Facebook page at or Twitter @BestBeforeBSE.

Any businesses interested in donating can also get in contact via or by phoning Hilary Whitwell on 07528 205084.

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