New ‘squeeze’ facing acclaimed Harrogate food charity helping struggling households

A Harrogate charity offering a lifeline to struggling households in the cost of living crisis has spoken of its fears of being squeezed between a worsening situation on food poverty and a "challenging" situation over its own costs.
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The founder of acclaimed community grocery service Resurrected Bites, Michelle Hayes, said the charity was seeing an increase in demand for its services at the same time as its own costs were rising.

As a result, the charity, which relies on the hard work of a small army of volunteers, now has to find £3,000 each month to cover the shortfall.

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"We believe that our community groceries are going to be needed more than ever with the cost of living crisis affecting so many people including many who are working," said Michelle Hayes.

Flashback to 2011 when Resurrected Bites opened a new community grocery store in Knaresborough at the Gracious St Methodist Church. Pictured are Rev Gordon Hay and store manager Carolyn Aitken.Flashback to 2011 when Resurrected Bites opened a new community grocery store in Knaresborough at the Gracious St Methodist Church. Pictured are Rev Gordon Hay and store manager Carolyn Aitken.
Flashback to 2011 when Resurrected Bites opened a new community grocery store in Knaresborough at the Gracious St Methodist Church. Pictured are Rev Gordon Hay and store manager Carolyn Aitken.

"Our finances are challenging as our average income per month over the past 10 months has been £4,750 and basic running costs are on average £7,650.

"That means we need to raise around £3k each month just to cover our basic running costs.

"But, if we factor in things we have needed to buy such as fridges and freezers, our average bills in the past 10 months have actually been £9,100 a month."

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Resurrected Bites was originally set up in Harrogate and Knaresborough in 2018 in order to tackle food waste and raise awareness about a situation in the Harrogate district where around one third of all food ends up going to waste.

But it quickly moved into supporting the growing number of people experiencing food poverty.

By March 2020, the charity was running three weekly cafes across the district.

Resurrected Bites' services now include “Give As You Can” cafes where people can pop in for a delicious meal and make a donation of what they feel the food is worth or can afford, as well as a community groceries scheme which is solely for people in food poverty.

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West Park United Reformed Church, Harrogate, HG1 1EQ (Café).

Gracious Street Methodist Church, Knaresborough, HG5 8AN (Café & Grocery).

New Park Community Hub, New Park Primary Academy, Skipton Road, Harrogate, HG1 3HF (Grocery).

Like many other charities, Resurrected Bites experienced a tough couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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During the first lockdown, their cafes had to close for a time.

Instead, the organisation provided free home deliveries of food and essentials for vulnerable families and individuals across Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale, Boroughbridge, Ripon and Ouseburn.

But the cost of living crisis means Resurrected Bites now expects its services may also be used by people who can no longer afford to put their heating on.

"We have registered as a warm welcome space so that people can come into warm up if they cannot put the heating on at home and get a hot meal at the same time," said Michelle Hayes.

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"It's all l on a Give-As-You-Can basis so no one needs to be cold and hungry on a Wednesday and a Friday when our cafes are open."

The charity survives on fundraising, grants and a hard work by an army of volunteers.

Michelle Hayes said: "We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing and dedicated team.

"We have around 150 volunteers and five- part time staff but we always need more, particularly we need help with some of the food collections.

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"If anyone would like to volunteer there is a section on our website."

Resurrected Bites works with shops, cafés, supermarkets and Fareshare ( to divert good quality food from landfill.

In the process, it turns what could be waste into meals in its cafes, and providing it to families through its community groceries scheme.

Since the threat of the pandemic receded, Resurrected Bites has found itself facing a new problem.

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The end of lockdown combined with the worst cost of living crisis for decades has seen a decrease in the amount of good quality, surplus food which the charity is able to source.

"We are seeing an increase in demand for our services but a decrease in the amount of surplus food that we are getting,” said Michelle Hayes.

"We have got to the point where we are going to need to start buying significant volumes of food to meet the demand. "

Resurrected Bites is stepping up its fundraising efforts. It will be attending The Knaresborough Artisan Market on November 5 and December 3.

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And it is also holding a fund-raising concert at St Mark’s Church in Harrogate on Saturday, November 12 with tickets available through Eventbrite or on the door.

But all that effort eats into time for its core activities in helping people get through the winter.

"We have to cover our shortfall via fundraising and grants to keep us at six months reserves," said Michelle Hayes, "which is where we want to be as we want to ensure stability for our employees and service-users.

"Fundraising and grant writing is very time-consuming and takes away capacity to focus on other areas of the organisation.

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"We are appealing for businesses and individuals who have disposable income to support Resurrected Bites on a monthly basis to help fill our costs gap.

If there are any local food businesses who have good quality surplus they would like to donate, please get in touch via the Resurrected Bite via its website you would like to make a food donation or find out more, visit