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‘We need regular contributions’: Food campaign organisers issue appeal for business support this winter

REGULAR support from the business community will be vital in the campaign against food poverty this winter.

Organisers of the MK Food Reach campaign have issued a heartfelt plea as the cost of living crisis leaves more families across the city facing the prospect of struggling to feed themselves as the rising cost of energy, food and other basics hits pockets hard.

MK Food Bank, one of the charities to benefit from the campaign, has seen a rise of almost a third so far this year in the number of families turning to it for help. “And we have not had the cold weather yet,” says its operations manager Louisa Hobbs.

Pictured above: Louisa Hobbs (left) and Franklins Solicitors partner Andrea Smith welcome a pallet of supplies to MK Food Bank.

MK Food Reach was launched by Milton Keynes law firm Franklins Solicitors in the summer as a way to help families struggling to keep pace with the rising cost of living and to reuse surplus food that otherwise would be destined for landfill. It aims to raise enough money to bring truckloads of surplus food to Milton Keynes for distribution to families in need. Each truckload of 26 pallets costs £9,000.

Freeths office managing partner Jonathan Hambleton lends a hand unloading a pallet of supplies at MK Food Bank.

Milton Keynes-based organisations including fellow law firm Freeths and waste management specialist Cawleys are already backing the campaign, helping to bring the first truckload of supplies to the city in the summer.

Speaking to guests at the City Breakfast Club networking meeting last week, Franklins partner Andrea Smith said: “Food poverty is a real problem. The idea of MK Food Reach is for businesses and individuals to contribute by raising funds to bring a truck load of food into the city. But we need more than just a one-off contribution; we need regular contributions so that we can bring truckloads in regularly this winter and beyond.”

Employees and their families are unlikely to reveal whether they use food banks but MK Food Bank estimates that one in 30 households currently use its service. The number of families that have used MK Food Bank this year is 31 per cent higher than in 2021.

“We are seeing 60 new families come to us every week,” said Ms Hobbs. “And the face of those families is changing. These are people we have never heard from before or who we would never have expected to need the food bank.”

MK Food Reach also works with the HisChurch charity, which in turn works with retailers around the UK including Lidl, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s to take their surplus food and deliver it to food banks. The food is perfectly edible but has been rejected for a variety of reasons that prevent it from being put on the supermarket shelves.

Ms Smith gave the example of packs of chicken tikka masala, rejected because ‘masala’ has been spelt wrongly. Pasta is refused because it is the wrong shape and Alpen bars find their way to food banks simply because the apple pieces in them are too chunky, she said.

Franklins has set up a JustGiving page justgiving.com/fundraising/mk-food-reach for donations to MK Food Reach and is appealing to city businesses to pledge their support.

The campaign is only £2,000 away from being able to bring another truck laden with supplies to the city. “26 pallets is fantastic but it does not scratch the surface of what is needed across the city,” said Ms Smith. “Regular support is really important and this is a really critical time.”

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