Demand for food packs highlights impact of the pandemic.
Homeless people and others affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak are to receive further support through the Scottish Government’s emergency funding for communities.
In March, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell announced a £350 million package of funding to help tackle harms caused by the pandemic, including a £70 million Food Fund. More than £40 million extra funding has since been committed for food initiatives, increasing the total to £110 million.
Social enterprise Social Bite has been awarded an additional £48,500 for its COVID-19 response, with its funding since April now totalling £700,000. Its team have delivered 500,000 food packs and meals to people in need in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow since April.
Speaking following a visit to Social Bite’s central kitchen in Livingston, Ms Campbell said:
“Like many community groups and charities, Social Bite’s team have worked hard making and delivering meals as well as offering a free takeaway service for those most at risk. I want to thank everyone who has supported people through this time.
“Sadly, the demand for such services highlights the terrible impact of the pandemic on people from all walks of life.
“We have provided flexibility through our £110 million funding to tackle food insecurity so people can access both cash and food-based support. This includes funding for free school meals over the summer holidays, food boxes for those who were shielding and support for people facing financial hardship. We have also more than doubled the Scottish Welfare Fund.
“Anyone worried about being able to access food should contact the National Helpline on 0800 111 4000.”
Josh Littlejohn, co-founder and CEO of Social Bite, said:
“As soon as the pandemic hit, we saw that food poverty was going to be a major issue for our most vulnerable communities, so we re-purposed Social Bite’s entire infrastructure to provide free food for those who needed it.
“Thanks to support from the Scottish Government, the business community and the public, we were able to mobilise extremely quickly. Since the pandemic began, we have distributed more than 500,000 food packs. This funding will help us provide further support for homeless people and other vulnerable groups in our communities amid the acute challenges of COVID-19.”
Social Bite has been awarded a total of £698,500 from the Food Fund, contributing to investment of over £1 million in its program to provide 500,000 free food packs since the start of the pandemic. It is the largest distributor of free fresh food to the homeless in the UK, ordinarily giving out more than 140,000 items of food and hot drinks per year.
Social Bite started as a sandwich shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh in 2012 and has grown to a national homelessness charity. Its social enterprise consists of five shops in Scotland, two large staff canteens in Edinburgh, a central production kitchen in Livingston and a corporate catering businesses. All of this infrastructure has been re-purposed during the Covid 19 pandemic.