One of the biggest issues of being in lockdown is making sure the most vulnerable in our society don’t go without food. Sandwell was one of the first councils to set up a food distribution hub and has been at the forefront of regional discussions around how best to work with supermarket chains and food delivery companies.
Based in a leisure centre, Sandwell Food Distribution Hub is staffed by a team of over 60 voluntarily redeployed employees and has delivered over 1000 parcels in the last two weeks. It takes donations from local suppliers and distributes emergency food parcels to elderly and vulnerable people in the borough.
Food parcels are designed to offer nutritious meals and cater for special dietary needs where possible. Vulnerable families are also supported with essentials such as nappies, milk and sanitary products, thanks to a collaboration with Sandwell Children’s Trust. The council’s ‘meals on wheels’ provider is helping provide a range of frozen meals for elderly residents.
Starter packs of essentials have also been provided for Sandwell’s rough sleepers, many now in temporary accommodation such as hotels and hostels with limited access to cooking facilities. The hub is also keeping food banks across West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Smethwick well stocked with bread, milk and vegetables for those who need them.
Numerous local businesses have helped make this possible:
- Tipton’s Panesar Foods have donated a range of curry and table sauces.
- Valencia Fine Foods and SIPS Education in West Bromwich, AF Blakemore in Willenhall and MKG Foods in Walsall have all continued to make regular deliveries of food stocks.
- Four Ways Bar and Grill in Rowley Regis and The Vine in West Bromwich have provided meals for the food hub staff.
- Sandwell Leisure Trust donated over £4000 worth of drinks and snacks from their vending machine stock.
- Local taxi firms have helped make deliveries across the borough.
In addition to the work of the Sandwell Food Distribution Hub, other organisations are working independently to help the most vulnerable at this difficult time.
Global Foods in Bearwood supplied enough food to Smethwick Food Bank to keep it running for another week. KTC Edibles in Wednesbury has adapted its business by starting to produce hand sanitiser, supplying across the West Midlands.
Perryfields Primary School is delivering fortnightly food boxes to families entitled to free school meals. These contain items with a long shelf life, such as pasta, cereal, rice, beans and tinned tomatoes, as well as fresh produce like apples, potatoes, cheese, butter and milk. Not only is this helping people on tight budgets provide meals for their families, but it also helps cut down on the number of supermarket visits.
We know this is a tough time for everyone, not least businesses, so if you’re just coping day to day, that’s enough. We have rounded up plenty of support for Sandwell businesses in these pages.
However, we know the above is just a small taste of the efforts being made by Sandwell businesses to help others at this difficult time – there are almost certainly many more stories out there. if you have good news to share or want to tell us how your business is helping during the crisis, please get in touch.