As the council’s Household Support Fund continues to help those struggling to afford food and energy bills, BCP’s Access to Food partnership has launched two pilot schemes in late February with local foodbanks and businesses to improve access to fresh food and meals.
A foodbank pilot is underway with £15,000 of funding to four local foodbanks to improve and expand on the availability of fresh produce as part of foodbank parcels being provided to vulnerable households. Christchurch, Bournemouth, Winton and Poole foodbanks are participating in the scheme. Winton foodbank is partnering with local grocers and butchers to provide vouchers for use on Winton highstreet.
The second pilot scheme gives local families and individuals who are visiting a foodbank the opportunity to have a hot meal or celebrate an occasion with loved ones in a local café. It aims to help reduce the impact of isolation that some may feel whilst in crisis. £5,000 has been allocated to provide this support through four cafes across Bournemouth and Poole. Poole Foodbank is partnering with Spire / Wesley’s Café, Winton Foodbank with Winton Salvation Army Community Café and Bournemouth Foodbank with Joy Café and Little Pickle Deli Café in Boscombe. Little Pickle Deli Café has given out £200 worth of meal vouchers to households so far.
Both of these schemes help residents who are in crisis to access nutritious food options and have more choice in the food which they receive. Lifehouse foodbank in Winton said: “What a joy to be able to offer the opportunity for people to choose their own fresh items. People’s faces have ‘lit up’ when given the vouchers. It helps our clients to feel less embarrassed and restores a bit of dignity to a situation”. One resident who took part in the scheme said: “I love that you provide food that is really fresh. This is fantastic for my children”.
Both schemes are funded by BCP Council’s Household Support Fund, which is providing additional support to community food providers and organisations which offer help to those who are struggling to afford food this winter.
Councillor Karen Rampton, Portfolio Holder for People and Homes, said: “These schemes are a fantastic way to extend the support which our partners offer to give better access to fresh produce and open up social opportunities to vulnerable local people to be able to enjoy a meal in their local café. We understand how isolation has been exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and projects like these can be an essential lifeline for many residents.
“Our community food providers and food banks have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people coming through the doors and needing help and support. We are really grateful for the ongoing support of our local community and would urge local residents and businesses to continue to donate however they can, whether that’s donating items at a local supermarket or setting up a regular monetary donation, every donation makes such a difference.”
The pilots are part of the Household Support Fund, which is available until the end of March 2022. BCP Access to Food partnership is looking at how to extend these pilots beyond this time. If there are local businesses that would like to find out more about these pilots, please get in touch with email@example.com.