No food bank role for conference centres

Conference centre managers have ruled out operating food banks from their venues.

UK food bank use remains at record levels according to the Trussell Trust, which operates a network of more than 400 across the country.

Between April and September 2015, Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK gave 506,369 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 492,641 in the same period last year.

But conference centre operators say they are seeking other ways of delivering benefits to their local communities.

David Pegler, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “ExCeL London is committed to building long-term relationships with local partners and organisations that deliver long-lasting benefits for our local community. I believe that maintaining an open dialogue with the community is important in shaping the future of ExCeL London and the borough in which we operate. In 2007, ExCeL London joined forces with Community Food Enterprise (CFE) to support their work. CFE’s aim has been to develop viable and sustainable food businesses that provide training and employment opportunities, as well as working directly with a whole variety of local initiatives including food banks and homeless shelters. We are delighted to be able to support Eric Samuels and his team in the incredible work that they do and look forward to continuing to support CFE and other local partners in 2016.”

A spokeswoman for the NEC group in Birmingham said: “Here at the NEC Group we ensure we give back to our community by being actively involved in projects that benefit those in our near and surrounding areas and with people on our doorstep that are doing good work. This could be by lending a helping hand by tidying up a community centre or spending a few hours in their environment to see what they are involved in and how we help.

“In regards to food banks, conference centres are not an ideal place to home them as the client hires out a space expecting it to be branded in a way that reflects their own vision and values, and the delegates have come for specific reasons, travelling from all over the UK or even further afield – meaning it is not always practical to ask for food donations. As a company we do offer any leftover food from our venues to foodbanks, but this is not always appropriate as sometimes we cannot provide non-perishable goods.

“However, we ensure that leftovers from all the NEC Group venues is segregated at source, and collected by our in house waste management team. The waste is then transported to a local Anaerobic Digestion Plant, in Coleshill, where it is converted into energy.”

Anne Danks, a manger at the Trussel Trust, said: “We would not wish at the moment to pro-actively develop links with conference centres which are specifically about collecting food, as we have other systems in place to receive food in sufficient quantity at the moment, which work very well.”

John Keenan

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John Keenan

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