Ealing Council has agreed to donate up £73,000 worth of food to local charities, with £62,000 going to the Ealing Foodbank alone. It has also agreed to provide funding to support ongoing food deliveries by Ealing Community Transport (ECT) on behalf of the Foodbank up until the end of December.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the council worked closely with Ealing Foodbank and Ealing Community Transport as part of the Ealing Together coalition. Ealing Together worked to bring the community together to meet the needs of isolated and vulnerable residents.
As part of this, the council, working with ECT, delivered 13,810 food parcels to shielding and other vulnerable residents. Council-funded deliveries stopped when government paused the shielding programme in June and the long-life food stock that the council had accumulated was stored in case deliveries were restarted.
Residents that still required food support were either given access to priority supermarket delivery slots or referred to the council’s Local Welfare Assistance team for help accessing food and benefits including through Ealing Foodbank
COVID-19 has limited the number of food distribution points available to the Ealing Foodbank. Residents that depend on their food parcels, but who are unable to travel, have instead been receiving foodbank deliveries from ECT, funded by the council.
Drop in donations
The foodbank is also facing a drop in donations from the community. Last month, they distributed two tonnes more than they received. They usually expect an uplift in donations during October as schools and churches hold harvest festivals. However, they are anticipating a drop this year, because of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
The council decision will help the foodbank to continue with its important work in supporting local people in need by securing the delivery service until more of their distribution points can be reopened, and by increasing the foodbank’s supplies in the immediate term. Any food that it cannot use will be distributed to other voluntary groups in the borough.
If the shielding programme restarts, the council will also work with a commercial supplier called Bidfood to provide urgent supplies to those in need, as well as helping residents to access supermarket delivery slots.
Many more families need help
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, said: “Even though the shielding programme paused several months ago, the immediate need in the borough has continued. And with furlough coming to an end and the economy feeling the brutal affects of the pandemic, we know that many more families are sadly going to be turning to the foodbank for help in the coming months.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown, we saw a remarkable response from the local community who came together to support our most vulnerable. I am appealing to people to still remember the Ealing Foodbank. Not only do they distribute essential food supplies, they also work with families to give them hope and support through some very dark times. They need our ongoing help.
“The council is also here to help with advice and practical support through our Local Welfare Assistance Team, support for businesses and advice on how to stay safe.”
Janet Fletcher, manager of Ealing Foodbank, said: “We are really grateful for all the support we have received over the past six months. When we had to close all but one of our centres and only operate out of our centre in Hanwell, we were very concerned about those living further away from us and how they would be able to get emergency food supplies. Ealing Council and Ealing Community Transport enabled us to carry on helping those in the further reaches of our borough.
“I’d also like to thank the general public who have been incredibly generous and often very inventive in how they have supported Ealing Foodbank with neighbourhood collections, donations via the drop-off points or in person and with fundraising.
“They have been amazing, and we hope that they can continue to support us, we have already helped more people in six months, than we helped in the whole of the previous year.”
Ealing Foodbank publishes a monthly shopping list and locations where food can be donated, on its website.
Council help and advice on COVID-19 can be found on the council’s coronavirus pages.