A CHARITY that helps struggling people buy food at a fraction of supermarket prices is working with new partners across the region to expand its service in County Durham and beyond.

The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) supported by funding from Durham County Council, the first hub has opened at Horden & Peterlee Rugby Club in Eden Lane, Peterlee.

National manufacture and distribution of food generates surpluses that is often wasted. TBBT are expert in working with food businesses in providing them a reliable service to redistribute their surpluses - helping reduce their environmental impact while increasing their positive impact in communities by creating an affordable food service for people on low incomes.

The County Durham scheme will grow to take place every week at five community spaces across the area including schools, community centres and churches centred in areas of greatest need.

For just £7.50, TBBT members’ shopping bags are filled with a minimum of £35 worth of items made up of quality fresh food and store cupboard staples from supermarkets.

As well as launching a series of new hubs for members, the charity is also opening it first warehouse outside Greater Manchester. The new warehouse will be in Chilton, County Durham, and will act as the base for four vans serving communities in County Durham, Darlington and, later in the year, Hartlepool.

This new partnership cements TBBT's service in the region, following its launch in Darlington in March this year with backing from Cummins, Darlington Building Society and Darlington Borough Council.

The charity has received a warm welcome across the borough, supporting other vital community work including delivery logistics for the town's second hand school uniform project and creating vital free school meals support funded through the generosity of the local community.

The charity expects to have over 20 hubs operational in North East by mid-2021.

As well as distributing much needed food, the scheme creates a useful point of contact for members to get help and advice, with partner hubs running a range of services alongside the weekly food collections.

Councillor Angela Surtees, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “In the current economic climate, unfortunately many families are struggling financially.

"This scheme will be a huge help to them and we are pleased to be able to support it. As well as providing £125,000 in grant funding, we have also worked with the Bread and Butter Thing to secure a warehouse in Chilton which will support its operations across all of County Durham and the wider region.”

Councillor Audrey Laing, ward member for Peterlee East, said: “This is the first Bread and Butter Thing scheme to launch in County Durham.

"While it is regrettable that such initiatives are needed, the truth is that people all over the country are currently struggling to make ends meet at the moment due to the pandemic and other economic issues. It is essential that we do all we can to support those in County Durham who need a helping hand.

"We would like to thanks Horden and Peterlee Rugby Club for allowing to use their premises."

Mark Game, TBBT chief executive added: "TBBT has come to feel very much at home in the North East and I'm delighted that we can expand our services across the region to support more low income families who face the daily challenges of making ends meet. We know that 80% of our members have gone hungry in order to feed their kids and as the effects of COVID continue to bite, more people than ever will need support throughout the winter and on into 2021.

"The financial savings for people using our affordable food service are significant, people eat better quality and a bigger variety of food, and we save tonnes of surplus edible food from going to waste. It's a win/win solution for everyone . We're looking forward to working alongside Durham County Council to build on our existing partnerships and serve communities from our new regional base."

People interested in using TBBT service need to register as members and should contact TBBT at hello@breadandbutterthing.org.