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Communities urged to support foodbanks as demand soars as a result of coronavirus pandemic


By Kirsty Brown

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Communities across Aberdeenshire are being urged to continue making vital donations to local foodbanks in a bid to tackle food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foodbanks are dealing with a massive surge in demand as a result of Covid-19 which has impacted significantly on their stocks of essential food and hygiene products.

North Aberdeenshire Foodbank manager Debbie Rennie recently advised Aberdeenshire Council that there had been a sharp rise in the number of people requiring assistance.

Part of a national network of foodbanks affiliated to the Trussell Trust, the foodbank provides food to people at crisis point by means of a referral and voucher system which can be exchanged for food parcels.

Debbie explained: “We have seen a 75 percent increase in the number of people fed this year compared to the same time frame (from the start of April to mid-May) in 2019.

"That includes a 69 percent increase in adults and a staggering 90 percent increase in children and we are convinced this significant rise is due in large measure to the covid-19 pandemic.”

In terms of food vouchers, 535 have been issued during the period compared with 309 last year, with the number of adults and children receiving support rising from 547 to 1,006.

Ellon and District has posted the largest increase in food support with a 540 percent rise, with Inverurie showing a 183 percent increase and Peterhead South and Cruden 148 percent.

Continuing Debbie said: “North Aberdeenshire Foodbank - and many other similar outlets including CFINE – continue to provide emergency food to those experiencing food poverty.

"Sadly, we all anticipate that this increased demand is ever only going to continue in the weeks and months to come.”

More than 90 percent of the food distributed by foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network is donated by the public – that’s why your food donations are absolutely vital to continue providing people with a balanced and nutritious three-day supply of food.

A typical food parcel will include items such as breakfast cereals, soup, pasta, rice and pasta sauce.

Tinned items include beans, meat, vegetables and fruit, while tea or coffee, sugar, biscuits and snacks are also featured.

Foodbanks can usually adapt food parcels to meet any specific dietary needs, for example, gluten-free, halal or vegetarian.

You can purchase food and leave it as a donation at the permanent collection points at any of these participating outlets:

  • Peterhead - Morrisons, Co-op.
  • Inverurie – Tesco, Morrisons, Poundland, McLeish’s, Royal Mail Sorting Office.
  • Ellon - Tesco, Co-op Esslemont, Green’s.
  • Huntly – Asda, Tesco.
  • Kintore - Co-op, Sainbury’s.
  • Kemnay - Co-op.
  • Pitmedden - Co-op.
  • Fraserburgh - Tesco, Royal Bank of Scotland.

Aberdeenshire Council's Annette Johnston said there is real concern that the ongoing effect of the pandemic could impact 1,000s of lives across the North-east.

She said: “Even before the lockdown we were seeing more families having to use foodbanks and we were seeing an increase in the number of working poor.

"We have also seen a 75 percent increase in the number of Universal Credit applications in a five or six-week period, but the changes in the benefit thresholds mean many families are now actually worse off.

“In addition, as a result of coronavirus and the impact on a number of business sectors including retail and hospitality in particular, we are seeing a worrying trend in the number of women with children who are now requiring the support of foodbanks.

"Similarly, with the impact on the education system and the sharp reduction in job opportunities and apprenticeships for school leavers, this is likely to have a major impact on our young people.”

Meanwhile the Council in association with housing associations, employability services and other partners is developing a new food strategy which will look at not only the use of food banks but access to good quality affordable food, community allotments and gardens to

support our communities.

A key part of the strategy comes in the form of a newly-established ‘Food Fund’ which has been launched by Aberdeenshire Council to provide vital support those most in need.

Aberdeenshire Council has been allocated just over £1 million for its Food Fund from a nationwide Scottish Government allocation of £30million.

Council leader councillor Jim Gifford said: “The initiatives will address food insecurity for those families and households experiencing poorer socio-economic outcomes or address health barriers and enable a continued response to the needs of communities during transition and recovery.

“A cross-service group is confirming arrangements to support families currently entitled to statutory free school meal provision and those vulnerable children within early years settings to continue to access the provision across the summer holidays.

“We have also agreed to set aside a proportion of the Food Fund to support local community and third sector responses to food provision and preparation, with organisations applying for funding through our area managers, similar to the approach taken to distribute the Community Resilience Fund.”


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