When David France, the Charity Manager, started work in November 2019, he built his own office in the mezzanine of the empty warehouse on the Lansil Estate. Not many charity managers start with so little and have to be so hands-on in making their project happen. David has the knowledge, the skills, the enthusiasm, the engagement, and the ability to adapt to change that we needed – even if we didn’t know we needed all this when we hired him. Now, after almost four years, he has decided it is time to move on.
Before coming to Eggcup, David had been working for FareShare Go. Before that he had worked in food and meat production and distribution, and he knew already about how food can go to waste in commercial production and distribution. In November 2019, the original Eggcup warehouse was just an empty space, we had no working procedures, we didn’t have any of the staff we have now, and we were only picking up small amounts of food. When David finished his work with us in summer 2023, he was directing a charity with two sites, more than 800 members, 90 volunteers, 7 staff, and moving 9600 kg of food a month. He had built Eggcup into an organisation that could play a central role in food activism in Lancaster and Morecambe.
One of David’s most important qualities, for Eggcup, is his ability to adapt quickly, creatively and confidently to change. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit very early in his time as manager, and food clubs were shutting, some suggested we would have to shut down for the duration. But David saw the crisis meant Eggcup was needed even more. He was able to set up systems for sourcing, storing, and packaging up large amounts of food, and getting volunteers to deliver it to people across the district. He rapidly set up a collaboration with Lancaster & Morecambe College to cook, freeze, and deliver meals and Eggcup played a key role in crisis support throughout the height of the pandemic.
As the UK came tentatively out of lockdown, David oversaw a shift to a new model that could be safely delivered even if restrictions returned – which they did. David managed the move to the Chapel Street hub in September 2020, converting a derelict shell with no power or light into a functioning warehouse with a member shopfront. David then managed the setting up of the Morecambe outlet that autumn. More recently, he has been responding to the huge decrease in surplus food that has made us reassess how Eggcup works. As the pandemic crisis morphed into the cost-of-living crisis, David worked to secure funding and to establish systems so that Eggcup could continue to provide support where it was needed.
But David’s vision has never been just about food; it is about community. He thought up the idea of a district-wide Buying Cooperative and he made it happen. The Buying Cooperative provides a means of bringing together food organisations across the district. People can use their collective buying power and they can see what can be achieved when people work together. David has taken a leading role in the Food Poverty Justice Forum, because the problem is not just getting food to people, it is addressing the injustices that cause poverty in the first place. David has a great capacity to work at detail as well as being able to step back to ensure that there is a coherent vision. He has the spirit of an entrepreneur, willingly giving his time, creative spirit and ferocious energy into building this project from a loose idea into a solid reality. And he has the passion of a campaigner, wanting to get our work right, and to contribute to making things better.
David would say no tributes are necessary, because he has been working as part of an excellent team. He has never liked any focus on his own role and qualities. But as he sets out for new projects, in a new place, it is time to acknowledge that we could never have hoped to achieve what has been done without his strong, creative, and dedicated leadership. We thank him for all he has done for Eggcup and for Lancaster and Morecambe. We wish David, Sara and Dalia the very best of luck with the new life in Italy.
Fortunately David has agreed to stay in touch and he will be on hand to advise the new Eggcup managers should they need it. More about those new managers in the next post.