A CHARITY dedicated to supplying fresh food and supplies to struggling families will open another base this month to continue helping those in need.

The Bread and Butter Thing, launched in 2016, works on the premise of collecting surplus food from supermarkets and other producers, before distributing it to communities.

The charity opened up its first base in Darlington in March, just as lockdown struck.

The support comes in the form of a fruit and veg bag, a ‘cupboard bag’ containing bread, eggs, pasta, and drinks and a ‘chilled bag’ of milk, meat, cheese and butter. Families pay £7.50 for vital supplies that would normally cost at least £35.

So far, 100,000 meals have been distributed in Darlington, with a retail value of £70,000 but costing only £15,000.

The charity has so far brought 42 tonnes of food to Darlington and have been supported financially by Darlington Building Society which have donated £20,000 to buy a van, working in partnership with Darlington Borough Council and Cummins.

Corporation Road School became the first community hub on March 25. Since then, two more hubs have been added – at Red Hall Primary School and Mount Pleasant Primary School on the Branksome estate. A fourth hub based at Firthmoor Community Centre will open this month.

Darlington Building Society, which shares five per cent of its profits with the community, has promised to continue its contribution until 2025 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

Society’s CEO, Andrew Craddock said: "Darlington Building Society has been at the heart of the community throughout its 164-year history and this is another example of how we can make a real difference during a time when we know local families are facing enormous challenges."

Mum-of-four Pauline Appleby, who lives on the Red Hall estate, queued up for the food supplies alongside her mother, Angela Catterson. “We struggle as it is around here, but it’s been really hard during the lockdown,” said mum-of-four Pauline. “It makes a massive difference and gives you peace of mind that you’ve got some food in. We appreciate the support from Darlington Building Society. We couldn’t have managed without that help.”

Seth Pearson, director of Darlington Partnership and Darlington Cares – two organisations central to The Bread and Butter Thing coming to the town – says the scheme has already surpassed expectations.

“It has been an unequivocal success and is making an enormous difference to struggling families in Darlington,” he said. “This could not have happened without the support of Darlington Building Society working in partnership with Cummins and Darlington Borough Council, their combined contribution was crucial.”

During the latest delivery to Red Hall, Siobhan Brown, Community Development Delivery Officer for the charity, was helped by a team of volunteers from the school to pack bags for around 70 families.

Ms Brown said: “The response in Darlington has been really good and there is a very clear need, so we are very grateful for the support from Darlington Building Society. Hopefully, we will continue to grow so we can help more people.”

Mandy Denton, one of the volunteer bag-packers, added: “We have single parents and a lot of parents who are on furlough, not knowing if they’ll have a job at the end of it, so you feel like you’re part of something really important. It’s just nice to give something back.”