The Independent Foodbank Aid Network reported a 177% increase in the number of emergency three-day food parcels distributed in the UK in May 2020, compared to the same time period in 2019.
Manchester is no different – especially when we know that the North West of England distributes more food parcels to struggling households than any other UK region. And that’s just via the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks.
We Love MCR, the partner charity of I Love MCR®, launched the Covid-19 Community Response Fund on 24th March to support the most vulnerable people in Manchester during the pandemic.
In the 18 weeks since they launched, they’ve given out £900,000 in quickfire grants to Manchester community groups and charities dealing with the immediate effects of the lockdown – covering many themes, including social isolation, mental health, young people’s engagement, and food insecurity.
They’ve now awarded 123 grants to organisations tackling food insecurity, amounting to £405,000, which equals 45% of their total Response Fund – showing just how important this is to Manchester.
The three largest awards in this latest round went to charities that have been delivering outstanding service to Manchester residents.
One is Open Kitchen MCR, a not-for-profit social enterprise working to eliminate food waste by intercepting food destined for landfill and turning it into delicious and nutritious meals.
They’ve intercepted and used 48,530 kg of food so far, and for each tonne of food they stop 4.2 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted, meaning 203.83 tonnes of CO2 has been stopped.
“Food insecurity, poor nutrition and isolation were serious problems in Manchester before COVID-19 hit,” says CEO Corin Bell.
“The impact of the pandemic has hit the most vulnerable and those already on low incomes the hardest, but has also thrown a new range of people into financial chaos and food poverty.
“Since COVID-19 hit, Open Kitchen MCR has worked with Manchester City Council to provide over 130,000 meals to the people and communities affected most by the pandemic.
“We’re proud to serve our city, and this funding from We Love MCR will allow us to transition to deliver a service that’s more sustainable in the long term, so that we can keep providing support where it’s most needed.
“I’m beyond proud of my entire team for working so hard throughout.”
Another charity to benefit is Mustard Tree, which has been supporting and creating opportunities for people and communities in Manchester and Salford for over 25 years, tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty.
During the first three months of lockdown, they supported 4,648 families, with people visiting for food or having food delivered over 14,500 times in three months of lockdown.
“We’re delighted to be one of the many charities benefiting from the We Love MCR Covid-19 Community Response Fund,” says CEO Jo Walby.
“They were one of the first organisations to grant us emergency support in March, which gave us the confidence to remain open.
“Their latest grant has come at a time when crisis funding has started to slow down, and has enabled us to deliver our new offer focused on food, furniture and advocacy for those most in need.”
And Rainbow Surprise, a charity in Crumpsall who have been running for eight years and operated a food drive for the last four of those, have also received a grant.
“Before the lockdown we were serving around 50 families a week with food parcels, however that soon changed to 100 families or around 300 individuals a day, and this was very hard for us as we had to face many different challenges,” says chair Shakar Hussain.
“The funding received from We Love MCR has been a real life line. It has helped us with the purchase of food and it has helped us with our volunteer expenses and buying their PPE.”
Now, the We Love MCR Covid19 Community Response Fund is almost exhausted and urgently needs more donations.