As an anchor organisation with a wide range of volunteering activities, Moray Food Plus had to reconfigure much of their work for lockdown, and have found that their partnerships with other organisations have proved invaluable.
Moray Food Plus (MFP) are the community food anchor organisation in the area, pre-lockdown they ran a wide range of services: emergency food, community larders, food recovery (including food from Fareshare), cooking skills courses, community meals, lunch club, Holibub (school holiday club), food growing as well as cooking and well being sessions with families.
While other agencies in the area also carry out food activities, such as lunch clubs, MFP is the only dedicated community food initiative in the area and supplies other organisations with recovered food. They are part of the Fairer Moray Forum which has produced a local Poverty Strategy, and they were also involved in developing a Food Poverty Action Plan.
Post-lockdown they have had reconfigure much of their work. An immediate change was the suspension of most volunteering activities as they could not maintain safe distancing for volunteers on their premises. They are still able to deal with referrals to the food bank and deliveries of recovered food, but this work is now done by staff.
Partnerships, which were always a key feature of their way of working continue to play a crucial part in their work and have been a huge asset in enabling them to continue to support those experiencing food insecurity:
- They have managed to keep supplying basic food items to community larders in partner organisations (such as SACRO) and they are also working with community councils to provide basic items for care packages. One of their partners, Scottish Gas, collect food donations from supermarket collection points and the Criminal Justice team, and a few volunteers help with food deliveries. They are also working with Quarriers Arrows Project to cook fresh meals for delivery, these are distributed via Social Work and third sector organisations to make sure they target those most in need. As an example in the first two fortnights they contributed to 350 and 392 care packages (this number is likely to rise as the situation continues) and 160 meals a week. Such has been the demand that they have set up a second kitchen to complement the work with Quarriers Arrows.
- Partnership and an organisational commitment to prioritising those experiencing food poverty and in most need, meant that when they received a high number of inappropriate self-referrals (i.e.: people looking for foods they could not get in the shops) they were able to act quickly to address the issue. They signpost everyone to The Moray Council Money Advice Team or Moray Citizens Advice Bureau to get a financial check before receiving a referral back to them. This means people’s benefits can be maximised or they can make an application to the Welfare Fund before they come to Moray Food Plus.
A key message, form MFP is that partnerships are stronger where each can contribute, add value and achieve outcomes that are relevant to them.