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Bounceback Food, the Altrincham 'Community Kitchen' tackling food poverty one meal at a time

Starting as a stall at Altrincham Market, it opened in New Market Square last July.

Hannah Robinson visits an Altrincham Market-based social enterprise that’s proving an essential partner for food banks and sheltered accommodation sites

In 2020, Greater Manchester Poverty Action estimated that 620,000 people, including over 200,000 children, were living in food poverty.

Bounceback Food, an Altrincham-based social enterprise founded in 2014, is helping to change that shocking statistic.

It provides a holistic approach to tackling food poverty through meal distributions, catering, community projects and education.

Josie Moir, its marketing and events coordinator, said: “From providing basic items to food banks, the ethos of Bounceback Food is to try and tackle food poverty on multiple fronts and from a broader, more long-term perspective.”

Bounceback Food in New Market Square, Altrincham

Starting as a stall at Altrincham Market, Bounceback Food opened its first Community Kitchen in New Market Square last July.

It offers a ‘buy one, give one’ menu of healthy dishes, providing its partner food banks and sheltered accommodation sites with nutritious meals throughout the week, as well as free hot drinks to those who need it.

Freshly prepared dishes include sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry, a delicious veggie chilli, a fresh Buddha Bowl and the soup of the day.

It also runs frequent community cooking classes, using surplus food from supermarkets to educate people and reduce food waste, and has now expanded to other parts of Greater Manchester and around the UK.

Chefs run cookery workshops using whichever surplus ingredients are given to them to show people the importance of being resourceful.

Bounceback Food serves a range of freshly prepared dishes

Josie said: “It is free for the community to show people what ingredients they can use up.

“Most people who receive items from food banks do not have much choice of what they receive. This has made a big impact on their lives.”

The centre also lives up to its name, by providing a community to many.

Josie said: “We tackle social isolation at the same time.

“We see a lot of regulars – including people who are out of work, so this is great for them socially.”

Esther King is a regular visitor at Bounceback Food in Altrincham.

She buys meals and coffees while supporting the organisation in any way she can.

Bounceback Food has recently introduced a new summer menu

A common misconception is that everyone living in Altrincham is wealthy and has easy access to food.

In reality, this is not the case, said Esther.

She said: “The gap from the super-wealthy to the poverty-stricken people is not seen. The charity is really hitting those areas.

“It never makes people feel like they are begging or that they are not worthy, like a lot of places which need people to fit a certain criterion to claim the services.”

The cost-of-living crisis makes a healthy, nutritious diet seem out of reach for many.

According to the BBC Good Food Nation survey, more than two-thirds of people said they viewed themselves as healthy eaters, but 28% said their diets were currently less nutritious because it was too expensive.

Bounceback Food opened its first Community Kitchen in Altrincham in July 2023

So, how can we eat healthily on a budget?

Anna Whyte, a nutritional therapist and health coach, offers realistic guidance to support people’s diet and lifestyle, and recently offered advice at one of Bounceback Food’s events.

She said: “Our socioeconomic status and the ongoing increase in food costs without a doubt impacts our ability to eat nutrient-dense meals regularly.

“Nutrition education and an understanding of how to cook healthy meals is also a large factor in this.”

She encourages people to keep meals simple and focus on what they do have access to.

“Make the most of frozen fruits and vegetables, eat seasonal foods which are more cost-effective, and buy dried beans, pulses and grains in bulk to keep the costs down and get some quality nutrition in.”

One of the healthy - and colourful - soups on offer at Bounceback Food

The food we eat affects not just our physical health – but our mental health.

Growing research suggests that access to nutritious foods plays a large part in our mood and mental well-being, said Anna.

“Consuming a diet rich in processed, fast food and low in whole foods can increase our risk of stress and anxiety,” she added.

“I recommend promoting a balanced, non-restrictive approach, which focuses on prioritising sleep, managing stress and building positive relationships with food.”

Bounceback Food hopes to keep expanding, and one day reach a national scale.

Josie added: “The more we can spread the word, the more people understand all the aspects of what we do and the more people can get involved and help bring our project to life.”

Photography: Laura Marie Linck