This case study looks at how Greener Kirkcaldy adjusted to lockdown with ‘Community Meals to Go’ and online cooking activities, and their plans to develop a community pantry with other innovations.
Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and Development Trust aiming to benefit local people and the environment. Pre-Covid 19, Greener Kirkcaldy was delivering projects to meet the needs and aspirations of local people: tackling fuel and food poverty, protecting and enjoying the environment, and bringing the community together. These included projects working on Food, Growing, Waste Reduction, Climate Change, Energy and Transport. In this case study, they tell us how they have adjusted to the lockdown and their plans for the future.
Following government and public health guidance, they had to close their building to the public as well as their Training Garden. Staff began working from home and planning how to provide support for local people whilst meeting lockdown rules. In terms of food and health activities, they had to pause all their cooking programmes and workshops. However, they moved some of these activities online: their community chef provides webinars and gives live Q and A sessions focusing on making the most of your food. However, as their Community Fridge and regular Community Meal were no longer available, Greener Kirkcaldy were keen to respond quickly and find ways to support people with access to good food.
Community Meals to Go Kirkcaldy
Greener Kirkcaldy has set up a meal delivery scheme using surplus and unsold food that would have otherwise been donated to their Community Fridge and their regular Community Meal. Funding from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund is helping to purchase additional food and equipment to scale up the project and deliver to more people in the Kirkcaldy area. When Community Meals to Go begun at the beginning of April it initially provided around 50 meals per week, by the end of May this had built to 500 meals per week.
Households receiving the service receive three chilled home cooked meals per person once a week. The aim is to supplement the food they may already have and provide variety. People who are experiencing food insecurity are referred to other services such as the local food bank, other local services and Greener Kirkcaldy’s Cosy Kingdom team who can provide help with energy advice and emergency fuel top ups. Greener Kirkcaldy provides about 200 meals a week to other organisations such as the local food bank to distribute and delivers the rest to individual households.
Like many other organisations delivering food services during the lock-down, Green Kirkcaldy have found they are supporting people who don’t usually seek or need help or who due the lockdown find themselves in challenging circumstances. For example, some older or disabled people may usually receive help from family members or agencies with their cooking or shopping. Some of these services have been reduced and family members may be self-isolating themselves. Other families reliant on self-employment have a reduced income and are struggling to manage with what they have.
Currently Community Meals to Go relies on the support of twelve Community Food Volunteers. During lockdown staff had to consider if and how these volunteers could provide help. Staff spent time planning and talking with volunteers to find out what kinds of activities they would like to do and felt comfortable about doing within a risk assessed environment. The volunteers support Community Meals to Go by helping the community chef with preparing, packing or delivering the meals to those that need them. Supporting the chef has been possible because of the very large community kitchen facilities available which allow ample space for social distancing. Masks and gloves are available for volunteers delivering the meals.
Plans on coming out of lockdown
Additional funding for the Community Meals to Go project covers costs up until July, so staff are currently planning how to continue to provide these and other food activities in the future. Previous to the lockdown, Greener Kirkcaldy had been planning to pilot a Food Pantry. They also hope to reopen their Community Fridge and explore how these two projects will work together to provide a more sustainable alternative to accessing good food.
Community Pantries operate differently to food banks or Community Fridges by offering choice and dignity as well as preventing the waste of surplus food. Those using a Pantry pay a nominal membership fee and then pay a small amount each time they use it (e.g. £2) to buy from a range of foods available. Food is priced using a points system which may vary depending on what surplus food has been donated by companies and supermarkets that week.
Another longer-term alternative to Community Meals to Go could be to provide meal kits and recipes using surplus food when available. Whichever options are planned; social distancing measures will be implemented to ensure that everyone using their building again can feel safe.
Greener Kirkcaldy received funding from the Scottish Government as part of the Supporting Communities Fund which was set up to help community and voluntary sector organisations respond to the Covid 19 emergency. Some of the funding has been redistributed to other smaller, local organisations in Kirkcaldy to support them with their own community responses. As well as supporting the Covid response activities such as Community Meals to Go, some of the funding has been used to support Greener Kirkcaldy’s other services, such as providing energy top up cards for those experiencing difficulties paying for their energy supply. Zero Waste Scotland also provided help in kind by donating containers for the Community Meals To Go service.