The Covid-19 lockdown led CFINE to close our food bank and food pantries at our premises in Poynernook and establishing with our partners (Aberdeen City Council, Instant Neighbours Trust, Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust and many community volunteers) a contactless home delivery service for those people requiring emergency food. Between April and the end of July 20,349 food parcels were distributed which is approximately three times the demand from the pre Covid 19 situation. Many of the people we are supporting have never had to use a food bank previously. Pre Covid-19 - 70% of beneficiaries attending our walk in food bank were men - during Covid-19 and through home deliveries there has been an increase in women making requests 45% and families with children.
The Lord Provosts Hardship Fund has enabled food parcels to be enhanced with the provision of fresh fruit (Kids Fruity Five) for children and now more recently hand sanitised and face masks. Nearly 30% of households receiving food parcels contain children and to date we have distributed 12,000 Kids Fruity Five packs - therefore 60,000 pieces of fruit helping to improve children’s diet. As the Covid 19 situation develops and the need for everybody to maintain safe practice access to sanitiser and face masks is helping those families on low household incomes struggling to get by.
The situation regarding food insecurity and requests for emergency food in August appears to be only lessening slightly as children are going back to school. CFINE doesn’t anticipate that this will go away quickly and if anything given the downturn in the oil industry combined with furlough being tapered and planned to end in October we anticipate that the demand for emergency food support is unlikely to weaken. Pre Covid 19 Universal Credit claimants was 8,000 plus, in July the figure for Aberdeen was over 20,000 and it is anticipated that unemployment will increase in the city. A challenge for CFINE is maintaining our current home delivery service. During the height of Covid 19 we had support from partner organisations and volunteers (without whom we could never have managed) preparing parcels and carrying out the deliveries.
However, as we have come out of lockdown many of those volunteers have returned to their jobs and therefore maintaining home deliveries has become more difficult. CFINE plans therefore to re-open our Community Pantries in Poynernook and Woodside in September and are keen - funding permitted to develop a mobile pantry that can go out to communities across the city offering access and choice of FareShare surplus fresh food , chilled and frozen to Pantry members at a low cost (10 items for £2.50- retail value £20). CFINE sees Community Pantries as a more sustainable and dignified model offering affordable and nutritious food at low cost to those in most need and one alternative to food banks.
Food Banks we all agree shouldn’t be needed in a country like ours and whilst they address emergency need they can tend to erode dignity, create for some an element of dependency and ultimately provide no long term solution for tackling food poverty and insecurity.
CFINE is delighted to receive this grant from the Lord Provost’s Hardship Fund which during the Covid 19 crisis will be used to ensure that every child in a family that requires an emergency food parcel will now receive an additional fresh fruit pack. This will contribute towards tackling child poverty in the city, helping families struggling to make ends meet and enabling children to eat more healthy and nutritious food. - Lisa, Chief Executive, CFINE
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