We've cooked over 1,250,000 meals for people in need since the start of the pandemic. But now, food insecurity will only worsen as some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people are set to lose out on £20 per week, beginning on Friday 1st October.
It is estimated that nearly 20% of the Scottish population was living in poverty before the pandemic began, with 24% of children affected.
Yet again, at Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts, we find ourselves at a worrying crossroads with uncertainty about how things are going to pan out over the next few weeks and months.
We are now, as a country, becoming used to living with COVID-19 to varying degrees and we’re thrilled that a number of our service users have been able to stop relying on Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts for food. But we’re still providing over 1,400 meals every day and the financial implications of the reduction in Universal Credit, coupled with rising utility bills, rising food prices and increased unavailability of food will be reflected in the demand for services like ours that support people who are in need of safe access to food.
In May 2021, when businesses opened up again, we saw over half of our volunteer workforce return to work, meaning a dramatic drop in availability of people to cook, package and deliver meals. In June this year, we reached the one million meals served mark, but the lack of volunteers unfortunately meant that no new service users could be added to our books.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the landscape changed dramatically overnight. People that had been previously settled in prosperous careers suddenly found themselves unable to provide for themselves and their families as the job cuts kicked in. We also found that a large number of people had fallen through the cracks of the traditional support mechanisms for one reason or another.
As we don’t means-test our service users, we became a lifeline for these people and continue to be. The upcoming winter looks like it’s going to be another hard period for those that are living in food insecurity or on the verge of doing so. As far as we can see, the cracks are only going to deepen for the foreseeable future.
We hope to be able to begin adding new service users to our delivery routes once again, however, a lack of volunteers and funds means a very limited workforce to fulfil all the roles needed to provide additional meals. If you can help out, please fill in the form on the volunteer page of our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.