“We began in lockdown with a membership of 20 and we now have around 60 members, as well as a huge waiting list,” she explained.
“The list has got so long we’ve had to close it for a while, as we felt it wasn’t fair to keep people hanging on when they were struggling. It seems almost everyone is experiencing a degree of food poverty.
“Our members range from low-to-mid-income families, refugees and asylum seekers to those with health issues that mean they are unable to work.”
The Cumberland’s community initiative has already made a huge difference to the Oasis Food Pantry, which is totally reliant on grants to fund their food purchasing and overheads.
Caroline continued: “This funding couldn’t have come at a better time for us. Our weekly fees to FareShare for the trays we receive each week are now covered, plus it has enabled us to purchase essentials for our members that we know rarely appear in the trays through the scheme.
“Ultimately, the generosity of The Cumberland is ensuring our members can live their lives rather than worry how they will feed their loved ones.”
Thirty six other projects across the county are also set to benefit from The Cumberland’s £250,000 donation, including Denton Holme Community Centre, Aspatria Dream Scheme and Petteril Bank Primary School as well as Flookburgh Community Food Club, Millom Food Pantry and Grange over Sands Community Foodshare.
The building society’s chief customer officer Claire Deekes recently visited one the projects, Kendal’s People Café, and was humbled by the experience.
She said: “It’s so inspiring to see the great work people are doing to help others facing food poverty, which is becoming a growing problem. Our research showed a significant increase in foodbank and community kitchen usage and it’s great to hear that our partnership with FareShare is helping alleviate some of the pressures that food projects are facing.”
Every one of FareShare’s Community Food Members in Cumbria, and some in Lancashire, will get a share of the donation.
This money is helping serve hot meals and provide food to people in the region who are experiencing food poverty.
Alasdair Jackson, chief executive of Recycling Lives Social Enterprise, said: “The demand is higher than ever. Many of the people visiting food banks and food clubs are those who would never have considered it before. They are working people in skilled occupations who just can’t afford to feed their families because of the cost of living crisis we are in. No one should have to worry how they will eat tonight. We’re very grateful to The Cumberland and we look forward to a long and fruitful future working together.”