Farmers urged to donate food to help people in need
- Credit: Gary Donnison
Norfolk farmers have been urged to donate surplus or discounted food to help community networks feed a growing number of people in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While farm shops and food businesses have seen a surge in customers during the lockdown, business closures have increased pressures on family incomes - and heightened demand for food bank services.
An online seminar later this month will explore the opportunities to create cross-sector "food partnerships" to unite private businesses with the voluntary sector and local councils to meet this urgent need.
The online event on April 26, run by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), offers inspiration from existing projects including the Burrell Shop in Thetford.
That initiative, opened in November by the Norfolk Community Foundation in Thetford, provides affordable fresh food to nearby households who sign up as members of the scheme. Another shop is due to be opened in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, in the summer.
Judy Dow, head of philanthropy at the foundation, said there were many other examples of community networks springing up across the county - and they all needed a supply of food after demand went "through the roof" during the pandemic.
"Farmers are key to the sustainability of these stores," she said. "The Burrell Shop is an example of people who are trying to support food security throughout Norfolk.
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"There are farmers providing potatoes, carrots, onions and eggs the store at a reduced cost or donated. We are really keen to develop this network of support from the farming community.
"If anyone in the farming community is interested in supporting with donated food or reduced-cost fresh produce then we can put them in touch with existing support networks.
"That is the partnership working. This dreadful pandemic has caused us so many problems but it has shown how we can work differently. We can unite people from all sectors and all geographies to deliver at speed on the ground.
"You would be amazed at the type of people who are stepping up and asking for support. The focus before Covid was the homeless, but now we are seeing single pensioners, young couples and families - people you would never expect. We have never seen anything like it."
- Farmers who can help supply food partnerships should contact email@example.com or call the Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623958.
- To register for the free Food Partnerships webinar from 11am on April 26, see the Eventbrite booking page.