Bristol news Charity which feeds 100 Bristolians a week needs help MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Foodcycle has been serving up nutritious meals from surplus food to thousands of people across the city for the last four years
Breaking News ! A food charity which feeds thousands of people across Bristol each year is appealing for volunteers to help ensure its work can continue. FoodCycle has been operating a community meals service in the city since 2009, feeding around 100 people a week. The charity collects surplus foods from businesses and supermarkets across the city, cooking it up into a three course meal. It runs once a week at the Barton Hill Settlement, which launched in 2009 and Easton Christian Family Centre where the service started this year. Between 40 and 50 people - most who live alone - from OAPs to refugees and the vulnerable, attend each of the weekly meal meet ups, which are hosted by volunteers. Not only do the sessions offer a hearty meal, it also offers those who may live on their own and may be isolated, the chance to socialise and mix with others. Looking for today's top stories in one place? Sign up for our newsletter here The sessions also reduce the amount of food waste and help tackle food poverty in the city. However, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March the charity has had to remodel the way it operates. Due to the lockdown it had to shelve the weekly meal sessions and instead launch a ‘Cook and Collect’ service. Volunteers go out and collect surplus food supplies which are then brought back to both of the city bases, where another team of volunteers cook up meals. The team put together three or four healthy meals which users can sign up to collect and take home to enjoy. Meals served up by FoodCycle volunteers (Image: FoodCycle) But the fact the service has morphed to a 'Cook and Collect' operation due to the pandemic, has meant many of those who used to attend the meals have once again been left feeling isolated. As a result the charity set up a ‘Check in and Chat’ initiative for users of the community meals service. Those signing up get a weekly call and a chat with a volunteer, to make sure they’re ok. FoodCycle spokeswoman Lucy Self said: “As a result of the coronavirus pandemic we had to change how we did things. “It was no longer possible to have the weekly meals because of the lockdown so we launched the Cook and Collect service. “We realised that what we did was so much more than provide a meal. “People were not only missing the meal but also missing the social aspects of the service and that’s when Check in and Chat was launched. “The Check in and Chat has proved hugely successful and when it started during the first lockdown we had around 200 people sign up. “People continued to use the service when the lockdown lifted but now with the new restrictions in place, we are seeing demand for it soar once again.” FoodCycle volunteers collect surplus food (Image: FoodCycle) The effects of the pandemic has also meant a drop in the numbers of people volunteering at the charity. “Due to isolating or shielding from the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer numbers have dropped significantly,” said Lucy. “ Without volunteers, Foodcycle cannot provide a vital service to the community who have come to rely on their weekly meals and food provision.
. “We have seen demand for all our services increase as a result of the second lockdown. “And we need volunteers to fill these roles right across the board.”
FoodCycle guests collect their meals
Research shows that more than 68% of FoodCycle guests worry that they can’t afford to live and rely on the free weekly meals Since launching Cook and Collect in Bristol, FoodCycle volunteers have saved nearly one tonne of surplus food from being thrown away - the equivalent to 2,837 meals. Current volunteer roles include food collection, surplus food coordinators and delivery drivers, plus cooking or hosting at ‘Cook and Collect’ projects. Those who are shielding, have been told to isolate or classed as clinically vulnerable should not volunteer. Those showing any symptoms, have tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, should also not volunteer at this time.
To help stop the spread of the virus and to keep Foodcycle guests and volunteers safe, the charity has introduced a number of new policies and procedures such as compulsory wearing of face coverings, hand sanitising stations, socially distanced queues and collecting data in line with track and trace. Alex Hatherly, south west regional manager at FoodCycle says: “Being a part of FoodCycle gives our volunteers a real sense of purpose in these unusual times. "People often sign up to give something back but end up staying because of how much they gain from it. “Not only does it make such a huge difference to the people that receive the food but leads to our volunteers making friends and feeling part of the community. “We really do need more volunteers to ensure that we can keep this vital service running.” The cook and collect service runs every Saturday at the Barton Hill Settlement from 1.30pm-2.30pm and at Easton Christian Family Centre at St Jude’s every Wednesday from 7.30pm–8.30pm To find out more sign up to volunteer visit http://www.foodcycle.org.uk. The charity has also seen a decrease in donations of surplus food this year and is keen to hear from local businesses and wholesalers who are able to donate. The charity plans to return to their community meals service as soon as it is safe to do so.
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