The AR 545 Food Bank run (from a brewery !!)

Question ? : How can your running community best help the less fortunate people in your local areas ?

The answer that’s sweeping the country in 2023 is a food bank run. As it stands over 350 running clubs will participate during February in a planned and coordinated response that has at it’s heart Fareham RC in Hampshire. I joined the Absolute Running 545 group from nearby Gosport the night after FRC ran theirs and it’s safe to say the initiative was a great success with our two clubs and many more posting their events on the shared facebook page. Below is a selection of the donations from the AR 545 group.

In 2018 Fareham ran their first food bank run and then in 2022 they took it to another level with the original driving force Sarah D and other club members joining forces along with Runr, our local fitness and lifestyle brand, to create an unstoppable force for good by enrolling running clubs up and down the country to join in.

Due to the current cost of living crisis well over two million food parcels a year are delivered throughout the UK, with every item being donated.

The post Christmas month of February was highlighted as both a low point in donations and a highpoint in demand, the 350 clubs that have got involved which could easily mean over 10,000 runners will contribute. Put another way, that’s the running community exercising on various chilly evenings but being warmed through and through in the knowledge that they were making a difference.

The thinking behind a food bank run is simple and effective. Running clubs contact their local food bank, organise a date, identify which supplies the bank requires, plan a route and deliver it. Naturally when your local bank isn’t that local then transporting the donations might be required rather than taking them in person.

The AR 545 version of these acts of kindness involved the Gosport Basics food bank, donations loaded into Nick (the 545 main man) Carters “run bus” and a run out and back to Alver Lake from a brewery. That’s right I said a brewery and more specifically the Fallen Acorn Brewery Co. that hosts the 5.45 pm Wednesday social runs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking what could be better than being involved in a great cause and running from a brewery (with access to the bar on our return) surely the only missing element would be food, well, they had that covered too. The food offering invite had been given to Pertersfield’s Earth to Oven guys who were on hand with their mobile catering unit.

The night began with me chatting to Nick and dropping off my bag of donations, soon after I saw Rob Piggott, one of our local race organisers at Believe and Achieve who’d joined as a new member that day. I’d say there were forty to fifty runners assembled for the 5.44 pm photo. The social nature of the run means everyone finds their own pace which makes the session all inclusive.

I chattered with Dayle Morgan and Rob P amongst others as we set off in the fading light and then I settled into a steady pace with Leanna for the remainder of the 5K. As we approach the end of February it’s encouraging to see the evenings gradually becoming lighter. I have to admit I wasn’t 100% sure where we ran but Alver Lake came and went along with the cycle path and Gosport KFC !! The chat centered around what a great idea the Food Bank donations were, as well as the usual running topics.

Upon our return the Earth to Oven guys were already serving the quicker runners with their locally sourced seasonal street food. I queued up for my food outside and a cider inside then joined everyone in the brewery. Nick commented that the Food Bank was “over the moon” with the donations and then with two of the club members having imminent birthdays a round of “Happy Birthday” rang out amongst the huge vats of beer.

I chatted with Nick and Kim then joined Dayle on his pub bench, yes, pub benches inside the brewery !! After chatting with Rachel, Jim and Steph there was just time for a quick chat with Claire T-G (one of the birthday girls) as she offered around cup cakes and told us she’d be running in Malta that weekend as part of her celebrations.

So, an eventful evening with food bank offerings at the heart of it. I’m not saying that bags of food will solve everyone’s problems but it’s a great place to start. Well done again Sarah D from Fareham RC, the the volunteers that run the food banks, Runr, and the 545 runners, we have all played a part in making a difference.

To sum up my 545 visit I’d quote the ever inspiring Heather Small …

“What have you done today to make you feel proud”

P.S. It was great to see the BBC giving coverage to the food bank movement too. Follow the food bank link to read more.

Thanks for reading