Our current food bank initiative was launched in December 2019, in response to the needs of our student community. A group of Access to Higher Education students realised that a group of their peers were struggling financially and were often unable to afford basic food items. To address this issue they approached the students union for assistance in establishing this food bank, a project that has developed swiftly and supported many students, particularly during the lockdown period of COVID 19.
Despite its success, this project has limitations, with students access to ambient goods only. At present as we have no access to a fridge or freezer to extend the life of perishable items. We have some amazingly generous students and staff that continue to donate food on a regular basis, but feel our reach could be greater within the local community. During the COVID period we have also signed up to the national FE Food Bank Friday, national colleges campaign which is due to promote its festive relaunch during October.
So, the journey so far has really shown how we as Colleges are able to step up and support our local communities in a time of need, above and beyond our normal day to day work. As you will know food banks are continuing to see a rise in demand due to the pandemic and we anticipate that this is only going to get worse in the run up to Christmas.
It is therefore our intention to purchase a fridge and freezer to enable us to provide fresh and frozen food items in addition to the ambient goods already available. Replenishment of stocks will also be available through this funding, as will greater capacity to provide additional support in the surrounding community, of which more than two-fifths of children in Plymouth wards are living in poverty . This can only be achieved through the continued generosity of our staff, students and local community.