Project Food is learning to work differently. Because of lockdown, we haven’t been able to hold any of our groups for the last 6 weeks or so. However, since we are a charity and our mission is to enable people in the South West to improve their diet, we looked at what we could do to help people in the very short term, and beyond.
So, for the last 6 weeks we have been:
- delivering boxes of fresh fruit and veg, homemade ready meals, milk and eggs to scores of people around East Devon and West Dorset who are self- isolating and shielding.
- working with the Monmouth Pantry, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage and East Devon District Council, among others, to deliver free ready meals to people most in need.
- putting together boxes of free fruit and veg to be given alongside the meals. The demand for all these services has been huge, and we are pleased that we have been able to support so many people so directly at this incredibly difficult time.
If any of these services would be of interest to you, please do ring 01297 631782 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One person who contacted us was a man who was stranded in Australia. He told us that his mother lived in a very rural spot in East Devon, she was shielding and had been unable to get any food since the beginning of the lockdown. This was because she is not confident to buy anything online and has no near neighbours. As a result she was rationing herself and was very worried that she would run out of food. We were able to sort it out with her son and deliver a big box of food the following day.
Many of the people we deliver to don’t have bank cards that they can use, so, being a small local charity, we can accept cash, and for those really in financial need, give away food. We are now giving away at least 100 free meals a week.
I am really pleased that we were able to respond so immediately to the need – long before any Government or other schemes were up and running – and our collaboration with River Cottage and the Monmouth Table is now helping us to increase our capacity significantly.
We have also been keeping in touch with the people who we usually help, to check that they have the support that they need, and we are soon going to start to run Zoom group sessions for them. I’m not sure that anyone has carried out interactive cooking sessions over Zoom, but we’re going to have a go! Many of the people registered with us will, quite possibly, be self-isolating for some time, as the vast majority have conditions that put them at high risk for Covid-19, so we need to support them as much as we can.
Hopefully, when things open up a little, we may be able to run one-to-one sessions with them in their homes, but it looks as though group sessions won’t be possible for some time.