500,000 meals and still going strong

Food store

Food glorious food - Credit: Submitted

An organisation which encaptures the true community spirit that has helped guide Torbay through the most challenging period in its history has celebrated its first birthday - and provided its 500,000 meal!

The Torbay Food Alliance was set up a year ago to make sure not a single soul went hungry as some of the resort’s most vulnerable and needy were in danger of being isolated by the cruelty of Covid.

Now an astonishing 12 months later and the Alliance and its partners have: 

  • Provided a staggering 500,000 meals. 

  • Provided an amazing 18,000 food parcels. 

Sand sculpture

Sand Man tributes - Credit: Submitted

It awesome work has also given Torbay Council the chance of landing a highly-prestigious award as the local authority has been shortlisted for the Co-op Council of the Year title.

Ten organisations make up the inspirational Alliance  – Riviera Life Church, Salvation Army, Paignton Community Larder, Feed A Child Torbay, Eat That Frog, YES Brixham, Brixham Food Bank, Rising Moments Community Project, PATH Torbay and Ellacombe Community Partnership. 

Food store volunteers

Larder partners - Credit: Submitted

Catherine Fritz ,of Feed A Child Torbay, said: “This time last year Feed A Child Torbay was struggling to get enough food for the Easter holiday meal-kit support we provide to primary schools.  

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“Thanks to the Food Alliance we and other food providers in the area have had a steady and ready supply of food, enabling us jointly to address food poverty in Torbay. 

“The Alliance has also served people shielding, ensuring that they received food safely. Food providers across the bay have been able to address people's need for food through the generosity of volunteers and donors, including Torbay Council and the Torbay Community Development Trust.” 

The Co-op Council of the Year Award honours councils across the UK who have shown a commitment to the co-operative principles. 

Council chief executive Anne-Marie Bond said: “We’re so excited to be one of just five co-op councils across the country that have been shortlisted.

“We are committed to being a Co-operative Council and are striving to improve the lives of our community by working with them. One of the ways we achieved this last year, which was one of the hardest years any of us have ever experienced, was by bringing together community food resources and fundraising efforts to create The Torbay Food Alliance.

“We are now building on this approach and are developing a strategic food partnership. This will provide a long-term collaborative approach and will create a resilient local food system. 

“After the last year we have all had we would be proud to take home this award. The winners will be decided by a public vote, and this is where we need your help. If we’ve inspired you, impressed you, helped you or made a positive difference in any way we would be very grateful if you could vote for us.” 

The awards are organised by Co-operatives UK – the network for Britain’s thousands of co-operative businesses – and sponsored by The Co-operative Bank.

Torbay is up against Kirklees,  Rochdale, Cheshire West and Chester,  Telford and Wrekin councils.

To vote for Torbay Council go to www.uk.coop/vote. Voting closes at midnight on the 1 June and the winners will be announced on 5 July 2021. 

Food bank logo

Awesome Alliance - Credit: Submitted

An Alliance official said the Torbay Community Development Trust and the Community Helpline should be acknowledged. "Without their ongoing support the Alliance would not be where it is today."

Other great partnerships have also been formed, including those with Fare Share South West, Caterfood, Riverford and Food in Community. 

Food bank volunteers

Jordan Williams (front) with volunteers from Riviera Life Storehouse and Danny Walsh from Walsh Removals, who did supply pickups from FareShare in Bristol - Credit: Submitted

The Alliance also worked in partnership with the council, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Fare Share South West and Richardson Hotels. It also raised over £30,000 via its Crowdfunder page.

A spokesman for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said: "So many of the people who’ve sought help over the last year, never dreamed they’d be in that position. While we all wish food banks weren’t needed, they play a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable residents. This is an outstanding achievement; and a great example of what can be done when the community works together with a common goal."