Since lockdown measures were introduced, Poole Community Exchange (PCE), which usually provides weekly meals and activities at the Parkstone United Reformed Church, has expanded its efforts to provide food to residents in hostels and refuges as well as to others in need.
Working with FareShare Go and FareShare Central Southern (Southampton), trays of surplus food are being distributed to vulnerable people as well as supplies provided to food banks, local food projects and community groups. PCE’s operations have significantly increased and a collaborative effort between staff, volunteers and many local organisations has resulted in over 29 tonnes of extra food being provided locally in the last eight weeks. That’s over 3,000 miles volunteers have clocked up in collecting, delivering and redistributing food.
This surplus food has helped to support 34 hostels for young people, homeless people and those in supported or emergency accommodation; 52 hostels and refuge drops per week and 753 household drops for families or single people struggling financially, those self-isolating and refugee families.
Cllr Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said, “The scale of work taking place in the community to feed vulnerable people, redistribute good quality surplus food and reduce food waste is phenomenal. The council recently introduced a Community Food co-ordinator role to support food networks. Whilst the initial challenge has been to support people to access food during the pandemic, longer term community food projects include helping people to grow their own food, boosting people’s confidence to learn new skills and providing basic but essential cooking equipment where needed.”
Residents in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area who need help to access food or other vital support, can contact the council’s Covid-19 helpline on 0300 1237052. The helpline is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.
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