FAMILIES in East Lancashire have benefitted from 500 baskets of food to help those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

Community & Business Partners CIC in Blackburn received funding of £10,000 from Lancashire Covid-19 Community Support Fund in September which has given a weeks worth of food to 500 families over the past ten weeks.

During this scheme, the topic of food poverty was high on the agenda as MP's voted against extending free school meals during the half term holidays, sparking a flood of community response to help those who would struggle to feed their children whilst they were off school.

Chief Executive Officer Amanda Meachin said: "The response has been absolutely overwhelming again. It's very bittersweet because the demand is so high but we have so many different ways that we distributed it this time.

"You've got a box of food that would do some basic meals for a family for if not a whole week then a good portion of the week and you can put lots of nutritious meal together with it."

Before the Covid-19 support fund, the company applied to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) for funding which helped feed families across Pennine Lancashire, with over 550 families helped.

The packages contain food from the five major food groups to ensure that parents are not only able to feed their families, but ensure they are able to have a nutritious meal.

As well as being delivered to homes, the packages were also delivered in bulk to schools that the school distributed to struggling families, bulk deliveries were also given to Blackburn food bank, the Salvation Army in Nelson and other community centre groups and churches across East Lancashire.

"The demand is so high and is so relentless," Amanda added. "We have got a number of expressions of interest in with various different funding bodies and funding partners to try and get more money to continue that regular distribution of foods that we can purchase.

"In the mean time we are continuing with the free food which is the stuff we pick up from supermarkets throughout the week and we are still doing the Fareshare portions."

Amanda said that the Fareshare portions, which cost £6, are already sold out until the end of January, proving that East Lancashire has a real demand for these services.

Food which is picked up from supermarkets around Blackburn that is close to or at its use by date is available for people are to collect, regardless of their income.

Amanda continued: "Quite often they [the supermarkets and food manufacturers] will give the food to us because if they don't it will go in the bin.

"When people come and pick up the free food from us, I don't care how much money they have got in the bank or how many times they pick it up, I just want to see that food eaten rather than it going in the bin."

The group works from community hub SAMS at Energy Zone on Newfield Drive with free food available Monday to Thursday's from 2pm if the company has received donations.