Chichester food rescue charity working harder than ever to help vulnerable people amid coronavirus lockdown

A Chichester-based not-for-profit food rescue operation is not letting Covid-19 hold it back from delivering essential food supplies to ever-growing numbers of vulnerable people across West Sussex.

UKHarvest is on a mission to eliminate hunger and food waste through the redistribution of quality surplus food.

Marketing coordinator Ella Jarman said, while Covid-19 has undoubtedly impacted UKHarvest’s work, it is working even harder than ever to support those in need in our communities.

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She said: “The need for food for vulnerable people has increased dramatically because of the current circumstances – and we’re trying to meet that demand.

UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need

“We’re working overtime to respond rapidly to the changing situation. In one day we rescued 20 tonnes of perishable food and were able to deliver to vulnerable families and those desperately in need.”

Operating under lock-down has its challenges.

Ella said: “A lot of what we do is delivering food, so we’ve implemented strict protocols to keep our drivers and food partners healthy and safe.

“It can be stressful but it’s what we usually do every day – we’re just working longer hours to rescue food and get that food out to ensure people aren’t going hungry.”

UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need

While some donors have had to shut down, others are now coming on board.

In fact, demand is surging: ‘100 per cent up’ on deliveries and food donated week on week.

Ella said: “We distribute 25 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables last week.

“We’re building new relationships with food growers and distributors, such as SummerBerry Company and Fresh Direct, and are looking for more partners to receive food from.

UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need

“And, due to our increased storage capacity, we’re able to accept larger donations from new donors and our existing ones, such as the Country Food Trust.”

As a result, UKHarvest’s six vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure it gets food to those in need, while operating a non-contact policy and practicing social distancing.

It now makes significant donations to food banks and newly-set-up emergency centres, not only in Chichester, Portsmouth, Bognor and Worthing, but also from Hastings to Croydon and Southampton.

Ella said: “They are really important to local communities, especially when it comes to holiday hunger, where children who usually get fed at school are missing out on important meals.”

UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need

Other new deliveries are to a coronavirus community hub in Croydon, Crawley borough and a range of housing associations.

Alongside this, UKHarvest is continuing its vital education work.

Ella said: “Although hands-on education has been brought to a halt, we’re working on engaging people over the internet with our weekly Nourish Community update of recipes and educational tools on healthy eating, how to store food, and how to use your leftovers.”

Given the desperate and growing need for food for vulnerable people in our community, UKHarvest continues to be grateful for donations of time and food.

It still needs volunteers, but ‘the main thing for us is to keep people safe’.

Ella said: “If you want to volunteer, please sign up on our website, as it’s easier for us to get you involved.”

UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need

Our biggest asset in this unprecedented time are our incredible volunteers and the staff from CFT who tirelessly volunteer for us – we would be lost without them all.

Above all, however, it now urgently needs financial donations.

Ella said: “£50 will help us feed 100 local people.”

For more information visit www.ukharvest.org.uk

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UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need
UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need
UKHarvest's vans and drivers are working extra hours to ensure food gets to those in need