Building society helps fight food poverty

Published on
17 June 2024

The Cumberland Building Society is making its biggest-ever charity donation, committing £500,000 over two years to help combat food poverty.

The regional mutual, based in Carlisle, Cumbria, has long championed charitable giving but made a decision last year to focus its efforts where they could have the greatest impact.

It identified food poverty as a salient issue in its core operating area including Cumbria, Lancashire and south-west Scotland and, in response, launched the ‘Kinder Kind of Kitchen’ initiative.

In the first year, in June 2023, it gave £250,000 – its largest ever charitable donation – to FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria, which supports community food projects.

This year it will donate another £223,000 to FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria plus £27,000 to FareShare Glasgow and the West of Scotland to alleviate food poverty in Dumfries and Galloway.

Claire Deekes, chief customer officer at The Cumberland, has met many of the volunteers who run the funded projects, which has been a “humbling experience”.

She said: “This year it is clear once again that many people are struggling to afford the basics, and demand remains high, so we took the decision to continue the Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative and extend its reach.

“We are a mutual, owned by our members, and looking out for our communities is really important to us.”

The Cumberland’s initial donation supported 52 community food projects, serving the equivalent of 577,047 meals and diverting 242 tonnes of food – that would otherwise have gone to waste – to people in need.

The initiative also distributed four tonnes of pet food and three tonnes of toiletries and baby food, while a pledge to donate £2 for each vote cast at the Cumberland’s AGM paid for 66 fridges.

Alasdair Jackson OBE, chief executive of Recycling Lives, the charity that delivers FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria, praised The Cumberland’s generosity.

He said: “We know the struggles our members have faced in recent years – demand is ever-increasing. Initiatives like this are helping us all to meet this need and make sure people don’t go hungry.

“Many of our groups have used the additional funding to expand their provision and many have welcomed volunteers from The Cumberland’s branches to help get food out. It’s been a real team effort.”

The Cumberland has assets of £3.2bn and saw its mortgage book grow to £2.59bn in the year to March.

The Cumberland has just published The Kinder Cookbook to celebrate the partnership which can be seen here.