#NeverMoreNeeded: Edinburgh Community Food
29 July 2020
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve supported local charities and voluntary organisations doing vital work in the community. With a series of small grants, we’ve been able to help those working in the voluntary sector as they tackle the impacts of the crisis in Leith and north Edinburgh. We want to share the stories of these organisations and the importance of these groups and charities at all times, but particularly in the current crisis.
Edinburgh Community Food
Having worked together with Edinburgh Community Food (ECF) to support healthy eating among our tenants for some time, it came as no surprise to us that they were one of the first organisations to step up their response at the start of lockdown. Before the pandemic ECF would normally be delivering a wide range of training and food activities across Edinburgh, all designed ‘to get people into healthy food and healthy food into people’. They often deliver veg boxes and run fruit and veg stalls at Edinburgh’s hospitals and community venues.
“Thank you for our delivery, it was amazing to see the range of fruit and veg we got. I am so grateful for your wonderful service.”
Even before lockdown, ECF had anticipated the response that might be required as coronavirus approached. They were already increasing their delivery activities and inviting orders from people who were shielding or self-isolating early on. After lockdown was imposed, ECF swiftly diverted their efforts into deliveries and supporting people to get, prepare and eat healthy food in the difficult circumstances that came with the pandemic and lockdown. The Food and Health Development workers looked for ways to collaborate with other organisations and started running cooking sessions online with ingredients which were delivered as part of a box.
ECF were acutely aware that not everyone could afford the food they needed for themselves and their families. To help tackle this they used the grant we provided to pay for some people to receive boxes at no cost. They always provide fresh fruit and vegetables and interesting recipes to inspire people to eat well, but also offer people some choice over what they eat even when things are really difficult.
“You’ve really inspired us to increase variety for our children and now my daughter eats veggie chilli and baked beans.”
After their initial quick response, ECF continued to look for ways to improve the support they were providing during the pandemic. We approached them with an opportunity for further funding and they identified a way to make their food boxes more adaptable to those living in Leith’s diverse community. While the food boxes were always filled with fresh ingredients, ECF realised that the ingredients could be better tailored to the households receiving them.
Chris Mantle, Senior Food and Health Development Worker, said: “A further key issue for BME communities is the cultural appropriateness of food items and we are now working on targeting and tailoring supplies to such communities.” Working together with local organisations that support BAME communities, ECF has been able to modify additional boxes and identify the households that needed this support. The decision to do so and the additional funding has meant more boxes could be delivered to a broader range of people.
ECF have been keen to maximise their contact with individuals and have also made efforts to bridge the digital divide by securing funding for tablets for families that need them. As lockdown continues, they are now seeing people become more concerned with their weight and diet, and some families are worrying about low exercise levels and how they will manage their weight.
Chris continues, “Our food deliveries assist in these by increasing both people’s consumption of fruit and vegetables and rates of cooking from scratch. Additionally, some families report increased child participation in cooking and increased willingness to try new foods as result. We also hope that our deliveries bring a little comfort and a smile to people.”
Linda, a recipient of an ECF delivery, agrees: “These guys do an amazing job. I am shielding at the moment. I place my order and it is delivered before 8am on chosen day. I love cooking and the recipes for take away meals are yummy. You receive the recipe, ingredients and then just make it. Easy to follow recipes and they taste amazing. Cannot praise ECF enough.”
In 2020, local charities have never been more needed for the vital support they provide to individuals and families, both regularly and with heightened demand during the crisis. The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign is a UK-wide push to remind the government, funders, donors and members for the public how we cannot afford to lose the voluntary sector organisations that we have come to depend on so much this year.
SCVO research shows that at the same time as voluntary sector organisations are seeing a rise in demand for services, they have been changing how they deliver and expecting or already experiencing a drop in income. The voluntary sector needs support more than ever to do what it does best during this crisis and beyond. We are joining in this campaign to help everyone understand the importance of a thriving voluntary sector on our own doorstep in Leith and north Edinburgh.