A helpful couple feared eviction when they were told to stop handing out free food outside their home.

Sarah and Tony Whitehead have been giving away surplus food from Tesco outside their house for four months to help their struggling community.

The duo initially collected food for themselves but when they were unable to use it all, they started to give some away at Highfields Caldecote, Cambridgeshire.

When they realised how much food was going to waste, they decided to collect more each week for their giveaway project, Cambridgeshire Live reports.

The food, which would otherwise be thrown away, was kept on tables and in a fridge outside their home for nearby residents to collect for free.

But Sarah said they received a call from their housing association last week telling them to stop after a neighbour complained.

Tony and Sarah Whitehead, of Cambridgeshire, feared eviction for giving away free food outside their home
Signs direct neighbours to the free food pick up area and ask visitors to be mindful of neighbours

She said: “I let our village know and they are all upset and angry.

"Parents are contacting me saying we’ve fed their children that week and pensioners who are shielding have been fed because of our food.

"I know we have the backing of 99 per cent of the village.

“We have the backing of the parish council too who are letting us use the grass in front of our house at the moment, but that’s not a permanent solution.”

Tony and Sarah Whitehead
Tony and Sarah Whitehead with their daughter Poppy outside their home

The couple received a letter from their housing association Accent Group which said they did “not have permission to run a food collection service”.

Tony believes that somebody made a report due to an unrelated ongoing dispute.

He said: “I’ve got the whole community on my side. How disgraceful and how disgusting is it that we can’t give food for free from our home.

"We’ve been collecting food for months but there is so much excess. What do we do with this food? I don’t want to chuck it away.

The couple started giving away free food when they realised how much was wasted

“We’ve been doing it for about four months, with no hassle and no problems.”

The letter quoted their tenancy agreement which says residents should not cause a nuisance and that businesses cannot operate from the address.

But the couple point out they are not running a business and claim the project is not disruptive.

Tony believes that somebody made a report due to an unrelated ongoing dispute

The letter adds: “I have received reports from concerned residents that people are turning up at all hours to get food and knocking on doors.”

Tony and Sarah said they wanted to continue with giving out free food but were worried they would be kicked out of their home of 19 years if they continued.

The housing association said it would never evict someone for trying to do good, but it did not specify what it would do if the couple insisted on continuing.

The association suggested that Sarah and Tony move the operation elsewhere.

The couple say most of the community is on board and that villagers were upset by the news

The couple has now relocated onto parish council land in front of their home, but the situation is still unresolved.

An Accent Group spokesperson said: “The first thing we would like to say is that what Mr and Mrs Whitehead are doing is an act of kindness that we commend them for.

“The demand for food banks has risen dramatically during the pandemic and things that shouldn’t be an issue such as simply feeding our families have become a real struggle for many people.

"We are working with national foodbank charity the Trussell Trust to play our part in helping end food poverty in the UK.

“That said, our position as a landlord means we must take into account how this action affects all residents living on the estate.

"We have had reports of people randomly door knocking asking where the food is located at all hours of the day and night, which is unsettling and worrying for other residents.

"The health and safety issue we’ve been alerted to is the request for a fridge to be placed outside running from a cable inside.

"The cable is an issue in respect of electrical safety and trips and falls, so it does pose a health and safety risk to others which we must consider the implications of.

“We would never evict someone for trying to do something that is good, and we are working with Mr & Mrs Whitehead to find a suitable, alternative location for the food supplies as we absolutely recognise the value of what they are doing.

"But we also need to ensure the comfort and safety of all residents living on the estate.”