Locals struggling to afford food reminded about the support available

Locals struggling to afford food reminded about the support available

People in Bath and North East Somerset struggling with food insecurity are being reminded of the various avenues available to get help.

Photo © HASPhotos/Shutterstock.com

Food banks, pantries, community cafes, and community refrigerators are all available on-site for people who need assistance to support themselves and their families.

Each service differs in what it offers and there are different ways to access each type of support that not everyone may be aware of. As such, Bath & North East Somerset Council is directing people to the help available and how to get it.

A new ‘Affordable Grocery in B&NES’ matrix has been added to Bath and North East Somerset’s Food Finder website, listing all food clubs and pantries offering affordable groceries or emergency food packs, along with their opening hours and days Monday to Saturday every week.

Available nutritional support includes:

food banks – These are free at the point of consumption and for emergencies where food is urgently needed because a household has little or nothing. They mainly offer pantry ingredients in packs designed to last three days, and the contents can be tailored to people’s needs. A referral and voucher is required from the Council Welfare Support Team, the Community Wellbeing Hub, or a third-party organization. Food is obtained through donations and additional support services, including financial advice, are often available.

Food pantries and food clubs – People with very low incomes can become a member and do some of their weekly shopping at very discounted prices. On average, £3-5 buys around £15-20 worth of quality groceries, including fresh, chilled and frozen groceries. Additional support services are often available.

Communal fridges or pantries – Free food is provided to anyone in need on a lucky dip basis and no referral or membership is required. Some community fridges also have freezers, which can help distribute fresh, chilled, frozen, and ambient foods, often near their sell-by dates. Communal pantries usually stock only food from the area. These services also reduce food waste. Many carry leaflets directing people to other support services.

community cafes – These provide healthy food options at low cost and help reduce social isolation by bringing people together. They usually work in organizations that provide other support services and often provide employment or work experience to people who are at risk or who have additional needs.

Councilor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Youth and Communities, said: “As the cost of living crisis continues to grip the country, rising energy and food costs are driving more and more people to seek food assistance – some who have never relied on others .

“That’s why it’s so important that people know when and where to get help if they need it.

“The affordable food table in B&NES Food Finder is a single reference point where people can see what services are available on what days, hopefully making it easier to choose the type of food they need.

“In collaboration with partner organizations and the many volunteers at B&NES, we are committed to doing whatever we can to support people during these difficult times.

“You can also get help from our welfare support team and the Community Wellbeing Hub.”

There are also food sharing apps that are free to download, including Olio and Too Good To Go.

People can donate non-perishable groceries to local food banks in all major supermarkets, now including Lidl, and some local shops. You will have guides to the groceries that are most needed.

Bath Foodbank can receive financial donations which can be made online. Drop off or collection of large charitable food donations can be arranged through [email protected] or by telephone on 01225 463549.

Keynsham Foodbank and Somer Valley Foodbank also accept donations of money or food and welcome volunteers.

Children attending a supported school or academy in Bath and North East Somerset and whose household receives certain benefits may be entitled to free school meals based on merit. Find out more and apply here.

Help with basic necessities such as groceries, energy bills and household items is available from the Council’s Welfare Support Scheme.

The Council’s Live Well B&NES website has a dedicated section on the cost of living crisis including:

  • Living cost support (benefits, energy, food, debt, child care and mental health)
  • Aid Services and Organizations
  • Pay for care and support, plan future care costs

The Community Wellbeing Hub is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 0300 247 0050.

Citizens Advice Bath & North East Somerset provides free, confidential and expert advice on benefits, debt, family, housing and more. Offices are in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton or call toll free on 0808 278 7897.

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