An update on the city’s Covid Food Response

The city’s emergency food network, made up of 45 food banks, food hubs and meal projects, is currently supporting 3,200 adults and 1,300 children with food parcels and 2,385 people with cooked meals a week.

This level of support has been made possible in the last three months as a result of generous donations from individuals, local businesses, housing associations, trusts and Brighton & Hove City Council.  The Brighton & Hove community have collectively raised £98,500 for the Hungry at Home campaign (£30,000 of which came from the Council).

New funding announced

This week Brighton & Hove City Council committed £124,000 of funding for this work and on behalf of everyone involved in the work – thank you.

This money covers several key areas of the emergency food response. 

£30,000 is for grants to food banks in existence before the crisis that adapted their services and remained open. This is in recognition of the huge increase in the number of people they are supporting, the increase in their running costs, eg buying PPE, and to help ensure that they can continue to operate in the months ahead.

£20,000 is for the Children’s Centre-run food bank services which support families with children under 5. Week on week there has been an increase in families with very young children needing help. The Children’s Centre teams offer both food parcels and family support across the city.

£19,500 is for Community Shared Meal projects that have adapted to a delivery or safe collection model. This is so they can continue to deliver meals in the coming weeks to people who are still shielding due to long term health conditions and age.

£54,500 goes towards purchasing food for the network of temporary food hubs that are distributing food parcels in neighbourhoods across the city. Food is purchased, sorted and packed into parcels at the Food Partnerships processing hub (based at Hove Park School) and taken by a team of volunteer drivers to hubs across the city for onward distribution.

The scale of the response and what next

photo by Ian Kelsey Photography (www.iankelseyphotography.co.uk)

Approximately 900 parcels a week are made from food that comes through the Hove Park processing hub and the average cost of a food parcel (including packing) is £15 per parcel. This means that the costs of the food distributed from the Hove Park School Hub are approximately £13,000 per week. The Food Partnership committed to raising £156,000 to cover the period June to September under the umbrella of the Hungry At Home fundraising campaign and the Council funding is a crucial element of this target.

The Food Partnership have also secured £70,000 from DEFRA and £7,000 from a crowdfund campaign between Food Matters and the Indian Community. We are working with local companies, trusts and the citywide Crowdfunding Campaign to achieve the remaining £24,500. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far and please get in touch if you want to find out how you get involved.

Although this campaign is for funds to continue to September, we are very aware that the crisis of people not having enough money to buy food is not ending any time soon and we are working with the community projects involved to make plans beyond this. The news about free school meal vouchers continuing for the summer holidays was a hugely welcome one. We were very worried about the number of families that would be turning to emergency food for support without this. However, with continued concerns about unemployment, as we move into winter (when fuel bills become high) and without national initiatives to get more money into people’s pockets, we know that we need to prepare for an ongoing need for food support.

But as we have shown over the last few weeks by working together as individuals, community groups, businesses and the local authority we can achieve astonishing things and I am optimistic that we can meet the challenges ahead whilst wishing very much that we didn’t need to.

Thank you’s

But before we move on to working on the next stage I wanted to pause to say a big thank you to Brighton & Hove City Council for not just the funding (which is always welcome) but also for the way in which they have worked with us over the last few weeks.

Teams across the Council have come together to help in a vast array of ways. They have worked across departments and quickly. It is dangerous to name names because of who you forget but this includes:

  • the Property Team for providing drivers and support with premises (including finding the food processing hub a home at Hove Park School)
  • the Brighton Centre (without their fridges and freezers we would not have saved the amount of surplus food that we did when restaurants shut)
  • Public Health and Environmental Health teams for providing guidance on safe working practices for food banks and meal projects
  • Regulatory Services for letting us use their vehicles (including the marvellous redeployment of the dog van to pick up food parcels not pooches)
  • Staff from housing, older peoples services, social work, learning disabilities and carers support for taking part in weekly food cell meetings to ensure food needs of different groups were met.
  • The Communities Team for setting up the central area food hub
  • Children’s Centres for expanding their food bank offer
  • The School Meals service for finding us a supply of takeaway containers when they were like gold dust and introducing us to wholesale suppliers when food supply was desperate.
  • The Communications Team for sharing information and stories;
  • And everyone involved in setting up and running the Community Hub Helpline which has been the first point of contact for so many people looking for support.
  • Councillors from all parties in Wards across the city have been there to guide residents to the right source of support, and have volunteered at and run the food hubs.
  • To Cllr Anne Pissaridou as the Administration’s Lead and Emma MacDermott as the Officer Lead for the Food Cell, thank you for your leadership and support.
  • And finally, to Peter from Cityclean who shaved off his beloved and mighty fine beard to raise funds for the Hungry at Home campaign (and to all of his colleagues who sponsored him).

Thank you.

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