Can your Church help with the development of Church Community Food Hubs?
Economic hardship is a daily and growing reality for many families in our community. Families struggling before Covid 19 are finding life even harder now. This winter we are facing the double whammy of still dealing with a national pandemic and Brexit happening in December. This means that food supplies and costs are likely to be under a lot of pressure. The time for Churches to act is now.
Community Food Link
During lock-down the Community Food Link (CFL) has established itself as a viable and needed link in our community. Their focus is the consistent and reliable collection of food from local supermarkets in the area and delivering it to where it needs to be for swift distribution into the wider community. They work with the ‘Neighbourly’ and ‘Fare Share’ to ensure collections are coordinated and reliable. They are currently making 35 collections every week and they work seven days a week. They make collections using a refrigerated van now owned by the CFL.
They currently deliver to six churches, seven schools and four other venues including the Food bank three times a week. However as the new term starts schools are less able to take and distribute the food due to having to accept back all their children while maintaining social distancing while still having growing numbers of premium families who need help. This food is free (near the end of its shelf life) and would otherwise be going to landfill or anaerobic digesters. This food should not be wasted whilst families are going hungry.
Food Distribution Church Hubs
Community food link are not responsible for distributing the food beyond the food Hubs. So, what do the Hubs do?
We visualise Churches playing a huge part in distributing and dispersing this free food into the community around them. The Church Hubs themselves would be responsible for growing their own links with local schools, nurseries, toddler groups and families in crisis to whom they would then distribute the food. The distribution could either happen by arranging times at which families come to collect food from the Churches or by delivering food out from the hubs themselves.
- Food Hygiene and Registration. Once the hubs receive the food from CFL they are responsible for its safe storage and distribution. This means that some of the Church staff will need to have food hygiene certificates and the Church itself will need to register with the Council as a place supplying food to the public (rather as a café would do). The registration will involve the Council coming to make an inspection but it is very straight forward and is not an arduous process. A Church hub would need a fridge and a freezer for the temporary storage of chilled and frozen goods and space to receive and pack food boxes
- Hub Coordinator and Team of Volunteers. Each Church Hub would need to appoint a coordinator making links with schools/ nurseries / toddler groups and families in crisis within their area. That person would also need to be the link person with CFL for the coordination of delivery times and days. The churches, through this coordinator, could also offer further pastoral/spiritual support through this work. The coordinator / church Hub would need to establish a team of volunteers to help with the food distribution and the work would need to fall under the jurisdiction of the Church owning / coordinating that Hub with regards to their own food hygiene / safeguarding / lone working / fire precautions and covid-19 cleaning and track and trace policies.
- Mission Possibilities. Church Hubs can also grow their own style of Hub with regards to other mission developments growing out of this food distribution project. For instance: Basingstoke Baptist Church ran a family feeding project over the summer holidays that supplied 100 cooked meals a week. London Street United Reformed Church is running a meals on wheels service for the vulnerable and housebound which provides and delivers around 60 meals a week through the Oasis Community cafe. London Street is now also developing a Wednesday morning bakery called ‘Risen’ to teach new and useful skills for those currently out of work.
We also believe that there is the opportunity for developing a soup kitchen or a pay as you feel café using this free food for instance. There are lots of opportunities if Churches are willing to pro- actively work together for the good of the town.
The Next Step.
Please consider the opportunities prayerfully and if you would like to talk through the logistics of becoming a Church Hub please contact Revd. Kay Blackwell at the end of September.
You can do this either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile: 07582056286 (both available for contact from the end of September)Yours in Christ
Revd. Kay Blackwell