Organisations from Cambridge’s Food Poverty Alliance are working together to keep holiday lunch programme run by the city council and community partners going during the Coronavirus crisis, making sure that food is getting to residents in need.
Three community food hubs – at Arbury Road Baptist Church, The Edge Café and Cambridge United – are being set up this week for volunteers to produce and distribute 350 hot meals, as well as bags of fruit, veg and other essentials from whatever is left. The city council has put extra funding into the project to buy protective equipment for volunteers as well as a large order of surplus food, which will be coming from Fare Share’s regional warehouse in Ipswich.
The prepared meals, as well as bags of food essentials, will be delivered on Wednesday to Cambridge residents who have previously accessed the holiday lunch scheme and registered their interest via a form on the Cambridge Sustainable Food web site.
Councillor Alex Collis, who leads on the city’s antipoverty strategy and has been coordinating volunteers for the project, was full of praise for the rapid response to the alliance’s appeal for help;
“The response from across Cambridge has been overwhelming, from individuals wanting to do their bit to businesses donating food and premises. We’ve had quite a few chefs who aren’t working at the moment offering to cook for us, which has been amazing.
A huge thank you should also go to the three community hubs – Matt and his congregation at Arbury Road, to the team at Cambridge United and to everyone at the Edge. They’ve basically signed over their buildings for the foreseeable future for us to be able to do this, which is incredibly generous.”
Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, welcomed the news that the holiday lunch scheme would go ahead in a new format;
“During this incredibly difficult and worrying time, it is especially important to do everything we can to make sure people don’t go hungry. It’s fantastic to see the innovative work that everyone is doing to make sure that the programme goes ahead. I want to thank all our city officers, councillors, partners and volunteers who have done so much to make this happen, and encourage people to volunteer, if they can do so safely.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank again the hundreds of people working, donating and volunteering in so many ways to care for our community. As ever, I’m so proud of our city.”
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, also praised the volunteers’ commitment;
“It’s really encouraging to see people from across our city getting involved in something so important. The Cambridge community has really stepped up over the past few weeks, and I’m sure will continue to provide vital support to those who those in need. I’d like to thank the Food Poverty Alliance for everything they are doing, especially the organisations who have so generously given over their buildings.”
The Food Poverty Alliance is now working with officers at the city council to put plans in place to scale up provision and work across the city over the coming weeks and months.
Sam Dyer, Partnership Coordinator at Cambridge Sustainable Food, who oversees the Food Poverty Alliance, explained;
“Nobody knows how long the current situation is going to last and, as food shortages start to kick in, I think we’re going to see more and more people needing support. We’re working hard to make sure that we can meet that need and that people aren’t going hungry. It’s going to require a lot of resources, especially in terms of volunteer time, but people in Cambridge are fully committed to helping.
We look forward to developing a longer-term strategy with partners over the course of this week.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer their time should contact Alex on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details. Businesses which would like to make a donation of food or equipment are asked to enter details on the Cambridge Sustainable Food web site: https://cambridgesustainablefood.org/business-surplus-food-donation