Feeding Derbyshire - Headlines

Food Insecurity: The National Picture

Over the last few years, household food insecurity has increased amongst British families and more people are turning to food banks for support.

Nationally, the State of Hunger report 2019 found that around 11% of children under 16 live in food insecure households and around 36% of food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks go to children. The End Child Poverty Report 2019 found that over 42% of Derbyshire children were living in poverty.

COVID-19 has magnified this issue. The Food Foundation estimates that close to 5 million adults are currently food insecure, compared with 2 million pre-lockdown, and this includes 1.7 million children living in these households. (localtrust.org.uk)

Between March and May, three quarters of a million meals were distributed to vulnerable families and individuals across the Feeding Britain network. An increasing proportion of these meals have been going to households who have recently lost work, in addition to those who were barely managing from one week to the next, prior to the pandemic, but are now simply unable to afford sufficient food and other essentials once their rent and utilities have been covered. (Baroness Boycott, Chair of Feeding Britain)

Feeding Derbyshire: Activity in response to Covid19

Food projects in the Feeding Derbyshire Network have been a lifeline for many individuals, families, and communities during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Feeding Derbyshire Network connects 28 Food Banks operating at 34 collection points across Derbyshire.

The network also links with 22 Community Cafes / Social Eating Projects.

Several community cafes have continued to operate during the COVID-19 outbreak, adapting their provision to the preparation and distribution of ready meals. 

During the last 2 months, Derbyshire food projects have doubled the amount of food provided to local people. 

Working with FareShare

Fareshare, who supply many of the food projects, have seen the food weight they supply increase from an average of 41,000kgs per month to over 81,000kgs in April and May. 

Food projects that do not subscribe to Fareshare have reported a similar increase in the level of need, with more people within our communities requiring support to feed themselves and their families.

Recent feedback from the Feeding Derbyshire Network shows that Food Banks and Social Eating Projects are supporting over more than 3,000 of the most vulnerable people in the county. Here are some of the stories they shared:

"We have supported a single parent living alone with her 6 children since the beginning of lock down. We have assisted her to make a new claim for Universal Credit, but unfortunately, she had no income for the previous 8 weeks. In order to survive, she borrowed money and is now trying to pay it back using her Universal Credit. Making repayments means that she is struggling for money to feed the family.” 

“A man contacted our project explaining that he was in financial hardship due to no longer having a regular income. His food supplies were very low. He was stressed and anxious. The Foodbank delivered an emergency food parcel to him within the day. He also agreed to receive a call from the Foodbank's link Citizen Advice worker who was able to help with some of the financial issues he was facing. The Foodbank will continue to supply a food parcel to him until his circumstances change.” 

“We are seeing more families with ‘Special Needs’ children accessing our help... particularly where there is a single parent. We are helping clients we have not met before.”

What we are doing

As the lead for the Feeding Derbyshire Network, Rural Action Derbyshire have been supporting existing and new food projects during the crisis. We have provided regular communication and advice, but most importantly, information and support with respect to funding.
In the early stages, we worked with Fareshare and Foundation Derbyshire on plans to rapidly increase the supply of food out to projects at the height of the emergency – just when they were running out of food. 

We are actively engaged with Feeding Britain, not only in terms of securing a funding allocation to take us into the autumn, but also through a Job Creation Scheme. 

In addition, we have successfully raised funds for a batch-cooking scheme. The scheme will stabilise and expand the provision of ready meals from community cafes to vulnerable individuals and families. So far, we have secured awards from Foundation Derbyshire and Feeding Britain, and are awaiting decisions on proposals submitted to DEFRA and the National Lottery in partnership with Feeding Britain.

What next?

The government announcement that the Free School Meal voucher scheme will stay in place over the summer holiday period is great news. However, feeding a child on £15 per week is a challenge, and families need additional support.

We are also aware that there are many families who are experiencing financial hardship at this time, but are not necessarily receiving Free School Meal support.

For a number of years, the Feeding Derbyshire Network has supported children during the school holidays; we have over 25 school holiday clubs that have previously offered summertime provision of food and enrichment activities.

Last year we were able to purchase FareShare membership for these projects, enabling them to feed children within their communities, many of which could otherwise have gone hungry. 

Since the outbreak of the virus, there has been a large increase in the number of Derbyshire families eligible for Free School Meals, and we will need more resources to scale up the support that can be offered.

The impact of Covid-19 means the Feeding Derbyshire network of school holiday clubs will be more important than ever this year, and you can help to support them by donating to our appeal here.