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Funding boost for emergency free meals


By Alan Beresford

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MORE community food projects will receive funding to provide emergency free meals to those most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell.

Around £700,000 has been allocated from the £70 million Scottish Food Fund to 19 projects, including a £350,000 grant to the Wheatley Group to provide 8500 emergency food deliveries to people most in need in 17 local authority areas as part of its own EatWell service over the next three months.

A further 18 schemes will share £400,000 to provide emergency food through a range of projects working with minority ethnic households, family support groups or mental health teams.

The Food Fund comprises £30 million for food deliveries for the ‘shielded’ groups at highest clinical risk, and a further £30 million to local authorities for free school meals and food support for older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

The remaining £10 million is for critical third sector and community response organisations, which includes funding so far of £500,000 each for Social Bite, FareShare and Cash for Kids.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “As part of Scotland’s £70 million Food Fund, we’re making an initial £10 million available to help support community food projects, and these latest grants will help ensure people are not only fed but treated with dignity.

“I am very grateful to be working alongside the Trussell Trust, FareShare and other members of the Independent Food Network to provide people at risk in our communities with the basic essentials their families need. I’m particularly pleased that FareShare is now working closely with many councils to strengthen local responses.

“The existing close partnership working we already had with these leading food charities has significantly stepped up to ensure people who are in the greatest financial risk as a result of the impact of the pandemic have access to food and basic essentials.

“Uniquely among the countries of the UK, the ‘cash-first’ elements of approach mean that where people can safely get out to buy food, we make sure they have access to the cash to do so. This is the most dignified way we can provide food support and we will continue to do all we can to help people overcome any barriers in their way.

"I am pleased that these charities have welcomed this approach as the most dignified way of supporting people with food insecurity.”

Martin Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Wheatley Group, commented: "We are delighted the Scottish Government has agreed to help fund our EatWell emergency food delivery service over the next three months.

“This support will be very much appreciated by the thousands of individuals and families in Wheatley homes across the country relying on this vital service. I am confident that by continuing to work well together, we will be able to tackle the considerable challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis."

Emma Revie, CEO of the Trussell Trust, said: “We all deserve the dignity of having enough money to buy the essentials we need for ourselves and our families, so we welcome the cash-first approach from the Scottish Government that aims to get money to people who are financially vulnerable due to this crisis.

“Despite these efforts, we know that there will still be households across Scotland that will be unable to afford basics such as food.

“In response, we have been working closely with independent food banks, FareShare and the Scottish Government to overcome significant challenges in the supply chain and ensure food will be available to those most in need of help.”

Sabine Goodwin, Co-ordinator, Independent Food Network, said: "While supporting independent food bank teams working tirelessly to cope with increasing need across Scotland, the Independent Food Aid Network has appreciated being able to work collaboratively with the Scottish Government, FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

“However challenging it is to distribute emergency food parcels to people who cannot afford food, we are trying to keep one eye firmly on the future and our joint vision of a Scotland without the need for charitable food aid.

“We very much welcome the Scottish Government's support of communities at this time and particularly its prioritisation of cash first solutions and investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund.”

Gillian Kynoch from FareShare added: “The Scottish Government has worked hard to ensure we are integrated into the Local Authority response in each area to coordinate support for the self-isolating, over 70s, and those experiencing – and at risk of – food insecurity.

“Many community food organisations that normally provide cooked meals to support vulnerable or low income people, older people lunch clubs, after school clubs, community cafes, have had to close their doors.

“These same groups and many others have adapted quickly and swung into action providing food parcels and hot meals delivered to people at home.The scale of this challenge has been significant but our collective ramp-up has been helped by a big response to our call for volunteers. So many that we are now operating reserve lists – which is fantastic.”

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