The Training and food poverty social enterprise behind Catalyst Kitchens and The Larder Training Academy has served 15,000 meals to those most in need across West Lothian during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their initial aim was to provide 2,000 meals per week during lockdown through the creation of a high volume food production kitchen at their Hospitality Training Academy in Livingston.
The food is freshly made by The Larder chefs and distributed, to the homes of those experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19, with support from Home Aid, another West Lothian based social enterprise. Everyone who is referred to the Catalyst Kitchen project will be given a meal for every day of the week for each person in the family along with snacks, drinks and treats where available.
The project has been made possible with funding from a variety of Scottish Government COVID-19 funds; The National Emergencies Trust, The Wooden Spoon, The Robertson Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Neighbourly and West Lothian Council.
Funds were secured to provide up to 2,000 meals per week but already that has been exceeded and meals are now reaching 2,800 per week, with referrals still being made.
Debbie Joy, the Catalyst Kitchen Project Co-ordinator said “This has indeed been a great community response and The Larder is only one small part of a jigsaw where the private, public and Third Sector are joining forces to support those most in need and to make sure that no-one in West Lothian is left without food as a result of this national crisis. We are seeing most referrals from homeless and mental health organisations and work closely with Third Sector organisations in communities across the county so that we can get fresh meals to those that need them. Anyone receiving the meals has the opportunity to make a donation if they are able to do so, ensuring that dignity is considered at all times.”
The Larder are now exploring other ways of supporting food with dignity during the pandemic, including how they best use their unused café spaces to feed people during lockdown and beyond.
Angela Moohan, Chief Executive Officer said ‘Covid-19 is impacting individuals and communities to an extent never seen in our lifetime. It has also demonstrated how strong and resilient our communities in West Lothian are as they have come together to ensure that no-one is left behind. We feel privileged to be playing a small part in responding to the need that is out there and I could not be prouder of our staff and volunteers who have been working so hard to get great food out to those that need it.
Government and independent predictions are that the impact of Covid-19 will be long lasting in our communities with a dramatic increase in poverty and in particular child poverty. The Larder recognise this and are already working with others to plan for the remainder of 2020 to ensure that those that need food have access to it with dignity.
If you would like to support the efforts of The Larder in feeding the West Lothian community, you can do so by visiting www.thelardercookschool.org.uk
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Emma Hamilton and if you wold like to find out more about The Larder meals or make a referral please contact Debbie Joy, Catalyst Kitchen Co-ordinator: Telephone: 01506 412819.
(Update provided by The Larder)