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NI wholesaler takes to streets to give away food left to spoil under Covid restrictions

Get Fresh, a local food supplier, were giving away their stock due to the new coronavirus restrictions.

Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye
Get Fresh, a local food supplier, were giving away their stock due to the new coronavirus restrictions. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye

The move from came after new restrictions mean the hospitality industry must shut down for four weeks, leaving those who supply hotels and restaurants with a stockpile of unwanted food.

Get Fresh’s Harry Crawford was the man behind today’s pop-up stall of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products outside the Grand Central Hotel in Bedford Street.

Members of the public could take the produce in exchange for a donation which would go towards an operation for an employee’s daughter.

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Howard Hastings along with Harry Crawford from Get Fresh. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye

Harry said: “In March at lockdown we destroyed, lost or spoilt about £50,000 worth of produce on the basis that lockdown came along very quickly and we’d nowhere to go with it. It was all date sensitive produce that was wasted.”

“This time around we weren’t holding as much stock because hospitality hasn’t been a busy, but nevertheless with a 48 hour notice of a shutdown our order books stopped, people cancelled orders – we were still sitting on a considerable amount of stock.”

Harry hoped coverage of today’s food give away will draw attention to the people who work behind the scenes to support Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector.

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Get Fresh were giving away their produce in exchange for a donation. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye

Harry, who is the third generation of his family in the food trade, said: “It’s not just us – it’s growers, producers, everybody within the food chain in the supply sector.

“We want to highlight that the industry is hurting and that includes the supply chain. People maybe don’t realise how the food gets to their plate, but there’s a whole industry behind the scenes that’s hurting also.

The pop-up stall at the Grand Central Hotel in Bedford Street. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye

“Food is being produced and there’s nowhere for it to go. Hens don’t stop laying eggs, cows keep producing milk.

“We took it upon ourselves to come here with the blessing of Hastings Hotels to give produce away for a donation which is going to a staff member’s daughter who is waiting for surgery.”

Speaking this morning he said the stall had been a success: “It’s quite overwhelming how the public have responded by coming along to make donations in exchange for food, and with their messages of goodwill.

“There is some good news, but our industry haven’t had the same support as hospitality to date and we’re really trying to stress we need support also. We can’t continue to soak up the losses.”

Pre-Covid Get Fresh, which began trading in 2007, employed 30 people.

Harry said: “There’s jobs at serious risk now.”

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