Getting food to the most vulnerable people in the city is being co-ordinated with hundreds of food parcels and meals being delivered daily.
A city-wide operation encompassing York’s foodbank, the Council’s community hubs, community meal providers and local food businesses are helping ensure people get the food they need.
To service the council’s community hubs with food for the medically shielded, the Council has created a central depot with volunteer drivers and vehicles to transport goods to the hubs. There, food boxes are put together and delivered to people identified through the Council’s dedicated support line.
From making phone calls to thousands of residents, the volunteers in the hubs are building a picture of the amount of food needed and how urgently, meeting special dietary needs and adding to the Government-supplied food.
A Council team has been set up to manage food purchasing and donations. It is buying food for the hubs from local suppliers and is shopping locally for those with special dietary requirements. It has also put in place a system of pre-loaded cards and a supermarket email voucher system to support local shopping.
The council’s support line is also helping people who can afford to buy their shopping but can’t get a delivery slot, or who people who can’t order online. With a local news provider, we have compiled a list of businesses which are able to deliver food and other services, and this is shared with all residents.
Working with Business in the Community, the council has connected to LNER which is donating 2,000 sandwiches each week. These are being shared and distributed by York Pullman buses to schools, community hubs, hostels and partner charities such as Kitchen for Everyone and Carecent.
Working with the Trussell Trust foodbank, which runs four distribution points in York, an extended voucher system is in place for council staff to allocate vouchers when making the proactive welfare calls.
Community groups are adapting to the emergency with a number offering a takeaway and/or delivery style service sourcing food through existing arrangements with supermarkets and donated food including ingredients given by Abundance York. Among them are Choose 2 Youth Café based in Hull Road Park.
Some local food businesses are also providing free meals for local people and volunteers are delivering them – donations are welcomed. These include the ‘Supper Collective’ which is cooking between 60 – 100 meals each day with ingredients donated by local businesses and delivered free by cycle couriers. It’s also been sharing ingredients and supporting residents together with Tang Hall Community Centre’s Food Circle. Bellfarm Community Association are also running a foodbank-style operation while also advising the council on its own arrangements.
Other groups which have previously offered street kitchen-style meals are now supplying and delivering food to people who were homeless and have now been found accommodation. These include Carecent and Kitchen for Everyone York.
Lots of local shops are now delivering to their communities, while supermarkets have increased their delivery capacity and put in place social distancing rules.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:
“This is an excellent response from our partners to support those in most need. The commitment and coordination behind each of these groups is encouraging and we’re pleased to be working alongside them.
“The Council is distributing a printed list of local food suppliers to all households across the city in the next two weeks, in order to ensure residents know their closest local suppliers.
“Crucially, if anyone is struggling financially, or cannot access the internet to order food, then I would encourage them to contact the Council on 01904 551550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline is open on weekdays and at the weekend from 8.30am – 5.30pm. “
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, added:
“The Council is making every effort to maintain links with community groups and we are sharing good practice on volunteering safely and operating a food takeaway or delivery service.”
“Our community hubs will continue to focus resources on supporting the most vulnerable in the city during this difficult time.”
Debbie Cousins, Headteacher at Hob Moor Primary Academy which is among the organisations benefitting from this, said: “Sandwiches, Easter nests and a ‘Poem of Hope’ written by some of our Year 6 pupils, were delivered to just over 200 children, and their smiles were amazing! Thank you so much for giving us this resource to make a real difference to our families.”
Here are some useful places to get information:
- Local media are promoting businesses with free advertising. We’ve sponsored an online directory of all the York businesses which are still operating to deliver to you yorkmix.com/yorkbiz
- Search for your local community pages on facebook
- Check your local supermarket’s facebook or web page for the latest opening hours.
Rosie Baker, Councillor in Micklegate and worker at Planet Food York added:
“Planet Food York is also still going strong for Micklegate residents. In the last 4 weeks we have distributed on average 50 food bags each Thursday which serves in total upwards of 115 adults and children. Demand for our intercepted food – meaning we’ve saved it from going into landfill too! – has increased and we are delivering to many self-isolators and vulnerable people. We are also serving families people walking over from Fishergate and Holgate since Red Tower and YourCafe have closed. Rosie says :
“Our volunteers are working very hard to coordinate and fulfil orders and we are getting more calls from new customers every week.”