Published Thursday, 17th December 2020
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council launches two new local Food Clubs – in Horley and Woodhatch – as part of its long-term commitment to supporting vulnerable communities and tackling food poverty.
This latest project works alongside a package of other food and fuel focused initiatives including hampers and hot meals for vulnerable residents on Christmas day, and the launch of a pilot project to combat fuel poverty this winter.
Food Clubs launch
The launch of the new Food Clubs will see residents in need supplied with nutritious and in-date, healthy food, ranging from dry and tinned groceries to fresh, seasonable fruit and vegetables. The aim of the project is to provide a sustainable solution that supports advance meal planning while reducing the number of people needing to use emergency food banks on a long-term basis.
The Food Clubs, part-funded by DEFRA Emergency Assistance Grant, provided for local authorities to support the financially vulnerable with access to food and basic supplies, launches in Horley and Woodhatch on the 16 December. They follow the opening of the Merstham Food Club on the 9 December as part of the existing community support offered by Merstham Community Facility Trust (MCFT).
The Council’s community development team has been working with FareShare – a UK national network of charitable food distributors – to set up the initiative, while bringing together a range of community partners who are best placed to support residents. People identified as being on a limited budget and referred by agencies including schools and children’s centres, older people’s services, and food banks, will be given support to sign up to the membership scheme enabling them to receive good quality, surplus food from supermarkets, at a low cost. Residents can also refer themselves.
Cllr Rod Ashford, Executive Member for Community Partnerships, said: “Providing support for residents in need has always been a priority for Reigate & Banstead Borough Council. Along with FareShare and our community partners across the public, voluntary, community and faith sectors, our teams have worked extremely hard on setting up a range of initiatives to respond to the increase in residents experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.
“From setting up the new Food Clubs in Horley, Merstham and Woodhatch, to providing funding to Food Banks across the borough; from hampers through to hot meals on Christmas day, our teams and partners will continue to share knowledge and coordinate the best possible support for our residents."
The Council also confirm the allocation of £20,000 to a pilot project to combat fuel poverty this winter. With more people being forced to choose between food and fuel, the funds will be used to support residents, both young and old, who are most vulnerable to the cold. It will be working closely with food banks, older people’s organisations and organisations supporting residents with money issues (such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Community Debt Advice) to provide residents in need with pre-paid utility meter top ups.
£80,000 in funding paid out to the borough’s food banks
The Council has now allocated and paid out £80,000 of DEFRA funding to five local food banks - Loveworks, St Matthew’s, Horley, Welcare and Epsom & Ewell – enabling them to replenish stocks for the winter period and distribute emergency food to residents who rely on them. Working closely with the foodbanks has allowed residents to continue to receive emergency support, while also considering how best to help residents in food poverty to be better equipped to support themselves.
Any residents struggling with food or fuel issues this winter can find support available at our online service directory. Go to reigate-banstead.gov.uk/coronavirus and click on ‘I need help’. Or call our community helpline on 01737 276000.