£1 million to ensure access to food

West Lothian Council is investing over £1 million to ensure local households in need get access to food.

Working together to feed West Lothian

West Lothian Council is joining forces with the voluntary sector to ensure no one in West Lothian is without food as a result of COVID19.

The council is funding a local community food hub until the end of June to coordinate collection and distribution of food to 26 voluntary organisations across West Lothian as part of the West Lothian Food Fund.

The food hub is operated on behalf of the West Lothian Food Network by West Lothian Foodbank, alongside a consortium of local organisations with delivery and collection points in every community across West Lothian to ensure the food reaches those who need it.

The programme is being funded by the West Lothian Food Fund and has been set up to co-ordinate the area's share of the Scottish Government's £70 million Food Fund. It aims to support those most in need, who are not part of the shielding programme and, who are experiencing barriers to accessing food through the usual routes.

This includes people with coronavirus symptoms and their families, financially at-risk families, older people, those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and marginalised households.

If you are in need of food, please contact West Lothian Food Network  on 01501 229307 and they can refer you to the appropriate partner organisation for your area. Alternatively they email: Support@westlothianfood.org

Executive councillor for voluntary organisations Kirsteen Sullivan said: "I'm delighted that we are taking this huge step forward to make sure everyone in West Lothian has access to food.

"This is a very challenging time for many families, and it's vital we support those in our community who need support. It's fantastic to work in partnership with so many local voluntary organisations to make sure every corner of West Lothian is served through the community food hub.

"This programme aims to reach those not covered by other support programmes such as Shielding but are still having issues accessing food. No-one in West Lothian should have to go without food."

Steven Turnbull from the West Lothian Food Network said:

"These are extraordinary times of unprecedented change we are living in right now. To meet the many complex challenges this has presented, there has been an extraordinary amount of work being undertaken by both West Lothian Council and the third sector to ensure no one in West Lothian goes hungry during Covid-19. The formation of the West Lothian Food Network, the Community Food Hub and the joint bid for funding by 26 third sector organisations are tremendous examples of the extent of collaborative working we are achieving together, of which the people of West Lothian can be very proud."

The West Lothian Food Fund has already been used to provide an additional payment of £10 per week to low-income families, such as those eligible for free school meals until the end of June.

The remaining funds will be pooled with money from the council's Third Sector Hardship Fund to give a balance of over £350,000 to assist other groups to support the delivery of the Food Fund objectives.


West Lothian Food Fund

The West Lothian Food Fund has been set up to co-ordinate the area's share of the Scottish Government's £70 million Food Fund. It aims to support those most in need, who are not part of the shielding programme and, who are experiencing barriers to accessing food through the usual routes.

This includes people with coronavirus symptoms and their families, financially at-risk families, older people, those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and marginalised households.

Families with children who are eligible for free school meals will continue to be provided with school meals.  This includes either a packed lunch or hot meal to go, breakfast cereal, milk and a snack.  In addition, the council will provide a £10 payment per child, per week to support eligible low-income families. This money will be paid into their bank account fortnightly.

The remaining funds will be pooled with money from the council's Third Sector Hardship Fund to give a balance of over £350,000 to support other groups to support the delivery of the Food Fund objectives.

Depute chief executive Graeme Struthers said: "It's vital we do all we can to support our communities at this challenging time, with access to food one of the key issues.

"The additional £10 per week per child will be given to the families of around 5,800 local children who are on low incomes and eligible for free school meals and school clothing grants.

"We are working with voluntary sector organisations, which are part of the West Lothian Food Network to ensure that services can be delivered across the whole of West Lothian.

"We will continue to review local priorities to determine the best way to invest the remaining balance of the fund to have the greatest benefit to those who need to most."

Eligible families will receive an extra £10 from the week of 4 May up to the end of the school term in June.