Christchurch community groups and organisations are going the extra mile to support residents through the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring no one has to go hungry.
A new initiative has recently launched to provide vulnerable individuals and families with a hot meal twice a week. Financed and led by local charities, Christchurch Community Partnership (CCP) and Christchurch Food Bank+ (CFB+), the nutritious meals are prepared by volunteer chefs and delivered by volunteer drivers.
This is just one of the ways community groups are responding to the coronavirus pandemic which has caused the temporary closure of lunch clubs, social café groups and schools, resulting in more people needing support to access food. As well as those with financial struggles, some residents are vulnerable, whilst others are in poor health or are self-isolating and unable to leave home.
Meals are prepared in the kitchen at St Joseph’s Church, Purewell, and volunteers ensure meals arrive to clients within 20 minutes, so they are hot enough to eat. Volunteers aim to feed the soul as well as the stomach and every meal is accompanied by homemade cake or pudding and is delivered with a smile.
Reverend Sandra Prudom, Chair of CCP, said: “Our volunteers are providing between 60 and 70 hot meals twice a week. Due to the high demand we have introduced a second hub in Highcliffe with additional food prepared for us by Skylight Kitchens. We have been touched by how much folk appreciate this provision and we are committed to providing it for as long as it is needed.”
CCP has reached capacity for hot meals and has been joined by CFB+ who now cook on an additional two days, providing a further 52 meals on a Monday and Thursday.
Referrals for the hot food service come from those working with older isolated individuals, the council’s Family Partnership Zone, churches, other community organisations and schools. For example, there are families struggling because children would normally get their breakfast and a hot meal at school.
Some of the other food support services locally include:
Christchurch Food Bank+ (CFB+)
The team continues to assist people out of crisis with enough food, toiletries and fresh veg and fruit to cover at least three days, whilst referring them to those best able to provide guidance to resolve their long-term needs. Through other CFB+ projects, they also assist people with emergency furniture (including cookers and microwaves), debt and money advice, plus workshops on cooking, shopping and eating on a budget.
The People’s Pantry
This membership scheme is based at Somerford Youth and Community Centre and enables locals to gain access to low-cost foods that would otherwise be thrown away. The People’s Pantry can be visited once a week, costs £5 and is available to anyone who needs it. During the Covid-19 crisis, people do not have to be a member to use the Pantry. For those who are self-isolating or unable to leave their homes, a delivery service is available.
This independent local cafe is supporting the community with deliveries of hot affordable meals. CCP has also partnered with Deli-Licious to reinstate the meal card scheme as another way to feed vulnerable residents in the Christchurch community and expand capacity with the hot meal scheme.
Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said: “BCP Council and local community groups have joined forces to deliver the ‘Together We Can’ community response to help and support vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone in need of advice about accessing food or other essential items, should call our helpline on 0300 1237052.”
3 ways people can help
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