Social enterprise award for Foodshare Kerry
Foodshare Kerry is one of 22 national projects to receive a place on Ireland's prestigious Accelerator Programme, and the only one from Kerry to receive funding specifically set aside for social enterprises as part of the award.
The innovative gold medal winner at this year's Kerry Community Awards, Foodshare Kerry is based in Tralee and is a project committed to salvaging quality surplus food from supermarkets and food producers to make it available to charities.
The announcement of winners for the €1.6 million Social Enterprise Development Fund took place in Vertigo at Cork County Hall on Wednesday last.
The fund is aimed at supporting social enterprises and will assist Foodshare Kerry's ambitions to expand its programme by offering support through workshops, advice and marketing ideas.
"At the moment we're running a food bank, but we're looking to expand our project into a social store type setting," said Robert Carey, co-founder of Foodshare Kerry.
"The concept that we're looking at exploring is one that would bridge the gap between a food bank and a conventional food store.
"This funding gives us the space and support to explore the idea. It would function as a normal food store but would also offer advice on other social supports to people, if they wish.
The judges liked the connectivity and community aspect of our project. We would also be looking to connect with local producers," Robert added.
Foodshare Kerry was set up over two years ago and has already prevented in excess of nine tonnes of food waste from going to the landfill, which in turn addresses issues of food poverty for people in low-income households, as well as food waste.
In 2016, Foodshare Kerry was awarded 'European Aid for the Most Deprived' funding.'
It distributes food three days per week to 34 charitable groups, while also supporting families and particular target groups of charities. KCC CEO Moira Murrell said social enterprises hold the key to creating sustainable communities across Ireland.
"We are delighted to partner with Social Innovation Fund Ireland in creating this invaluable fund," Ms Murrell said.