Fresh funding from Thanet county councillors and a huge discount from charitable food redistributor Fareshare has boosted a service delivering free food to those struggling during the Coronavirus crisis as well as providing affordable food packs for others.
Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet, run by Ramsgate resident Sharon Goodyer, has been working with the isle’s established food banks, providing new distribution points, and Ramsgate Town Council to distribute free food to the large number of people experiencing food insecurity in Thanet.
The community interest company is also responsible for the free Summer Kitchen scheme which feeds families who may need extra help over the long school holidays.
County council member Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine provided funding for the Summer Kitchen and both have also backed areas of the coronavirus food scheme.
They have now been joined by fellow county councillors Emma Dawson, Paul Messenger and Lesley Game who will also be funding the work with grants from their members’ funds.
Yesterday (May 6) the team also received news that food supplier Fareshare has granted a huge 96% discount for goods bought in April with a pledge to discount in the coming months.
Sharon said: “Currently, because of the changes due to trying to control infection rates of Covid 19, many of us are unable to leave our homes at all. Others are finding it difficult and time consuming to shop for food and many of us lack the money to buy much food. The situation changes almost every day.
“The early days of panic and shock when shops were stripped bare are behind us. But going shopping for food is still a worry for a large number of us.
“Staying positive and optimistic is not easy but I do have had good news. Fareshare, Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet and Kent County Council have worked well together for the past three years. Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine have supported two years of successful Summer Kitchens and now County Councillors Emma Dawson, Paul Messenger and Lesley Game have joined us by directly funding our work.
“Now, we have received some stunning and completely unexpected news that will make this funding go so much further. We have always offered good value because we have no rent bills and no wages bills. We are all volunteers and we are invited into other peoples’ buildings to work. But this news will make us better value than ever.
“Just at that point where I was asking myself ‘ where is all this government funding going, because we have not seen any of it’ Fareshare emailed us to tell us we have a 96% discount. “So our bill for the month of April has gone from more than £4,000 to a few hundred pounds. We also have a promise that we will receive a discount of some sort for the next few months. I want to say thank you Paul Underdown and his team at Fareshare . They work incredibly hard to provide us with food stock even when there is little to be had.
“This means we now have the opportunity to develop our new takeaway service. We have a little capital finance to use to increase the quality of the food in the bags, Maybe we can now include some cleaning materials too.”
The takeaway meals are £2 each so a family of four can have a healthy takeaway for £8. Last Friday we delivered 40 meals and we already have bookings for 13 for this Friday.”
The takeaways can be ordered through the Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet facebook page and are currently available for those in the CT9 postcode area.
Sharon says it is now time to think ahead to what kind of food people will want to return to after the pandemic.
She said: “The question is how can we make the transition and what kind of food do we want to return to? There is some new knowledge about those people who are unfit, obese and those with high blood pressure being much more vulnerable to the virus. All of these conditions can be improved by a different lifestyle which includes a better diet.
“We should all be able to eat well and enjoy doing so. We live in the Garden of England. We have a huge number of food shops, supermarkets, farm shops, restaurants, cafes and take aways locally. We can use any number of delivered meals services and postal schemes for food kits and specialist products. We have more than our fair share of organic box schemes and food product developers. But how many of these offer value for money? How many are affordable for all of us? Which ones are delicious and also support our long-term health?
“Another part of this picture is how confident are we in our ability to shop, store, cook and eat well at home? There are lots of programmes, blogs, books, videos, magazine articles telling us how, but do we have the kitchen space and equipment we need?
“A lot has happened to food and our attitude to food recently. After going through all of this do we want to return to what we had before or can we imagine and plan for a better food future for Thanet?
“Our national food supply depends on our farmers to a large extent. Have we made it possible for them to flourish and invest and develop ? Do they feel valued and appreciated? Do our fishermen feel understood ? Do we make best use of the food they provide for us?
Our national stocks of food are not as high or as secure as they were. We must waste less.
“I’d like to know what people would like to see in their new food future in Thanet.”
The Ramsgate Town Council team, which is using the former Ramsgate fire station as a food hub, has now delivered more than 100 tones of supplies to residents in need on the isle. All six RTC technicians have been deployed to help with the effort.