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Food Poverty Alliance create hubs to maintain Cambridge City Council holiday lunch programme

Sam Dyer, left, from Cambridge Sustainable Food, and Alex Collis, Cambridge City Council leader for anti-poverty and sustainable food. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sam Dyer, left, from Cambridge Sustainable Food, and Alex Collis, Cambridge City Council leader for anti-poverty and sustainable food. Picture: Keith Heppell

Three community hubs are being set up to help keep Cambridge City Council’s holiday lunch programme running.

Organisations from the city’s Food Poverty Alliance are working together to make sure that food is getting to those residents in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteers will be producing and distributing 500 hot meals as well as bags of fruit, vegetables and other essentials from the hubs at Arbury Road Baptist Church, The Edge Cafe and Cambridge United Football Club.

The city council has put extra funding into the project to buy protective equipment for volunteers and a large order of surplus food, which will be coming from Fare Share’s regional warehouse in Ipswich.

Cllr Alex Collis, who leads on the city’s anti-poverty strategy and has been coordinating volunteers for the project, said: “The response from across Cambridge has been overwhelming, from individuals wanting to do their bit to businesses donating food and premises.

“We’ve had quite a few chefs who aren’t working at the moment offering to cook for us, which has been amazing.

“A huge thank you should also go to the three community hubs – Matt and his congregation at Arbury Road, to the team at Cambridge United and to everyone at the Edge. They’ve basically signed over their buildings for the foreseeable future for us to be able to do this, which is incredibly generous.”

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said: It’s really encouraging to see people from across our city getting involved in something so important.

“The Cambridge community has really stepped up over the past few weeks, and I’m sure will continue to provide vital support to those who are in need.

“I’d like to thank the Food Poverty Alliance for everything they are doing, especially the organisations who have so generously given over their buildings.”

The prepared meals will be delivered on Wednesday to Cambridge residents who have previously accessed the holiday lunch scheme and registered their interest via a form on the Cambridge Sustainable food website.

The Food Poverty Alliance is working with city council officers to scale up provision and work across the city in the coming weeks and months.

Sam Dyer, partnership coordinator at Cambridge Sustainable Food who oversees the Food Poverty Alliance, said: “Nobody knows how long the current situation is going to last and, as food shortages start to kick in, I think we’re going to see more and more people needing support.

"We’re working hard to make sure that we can meet that need and that people aren’t going hungry. It’s going to require a lot of resources, especially in terms of volunteer time, but people in Cambridge are fully committed to helping.

"We look forward to developing a longer-term strategy with partners over the course of this week.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer should email Alex Collis at alex.collis@cambridge.gov.uk for more details.

Businesses wishing to make donations of food or equipment should visit cambridgesustainablefood.org/business-surplus-food-donation.

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