Charity leaders have held crisis talks to ward off a double whammy threatening their ability to feed the most vulnerable in the north-east during the coronavirus pandemic.
As the number of people in Grampian diagnosed with Covid-19 rose to 24 today, good causes drew up battle plans to protect their workforce and support the needy.
Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) bosses said they are dealing with the double whammy of a spike in demand for emergency food parcels and their own staff self-isolating.
It is also helping Aberdeen City Council feed the city’s first homeless person to self-isolate in temporary accommodation – and more could follow.
However, the charity’s leaders have praised the public as five new volunteers have come forward and £570 has been donated since Saturday.
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CFINE usually hands out around 90 emergency food parcels a day but that has risen to 110 since the pandemic hit supermarket stocks.
Its chief executive, Dave Simmers, said: “We held a crisis meeting on Monday morning to discuss how we can implement a wide range of changes.
“As supermarket panic-buying has happened, we have seen an increase in people seeking food parcels.
“We need food, volunteers and finance.
“Our supporters donate food by either bringing it to us at 2 Poynernook Road or order a supermarket shop online.
“However, we know the kind of food supermarkets are running out of – tinned food, non-perishable goods – are the kind of things we put in the parcels so there are lots of our supporters who want to help who are unable to because they cant get it.
“Also we’re noticing that some supermarkets have delivery slots booked out for the next week.
“If people would rather donate money, they can do so via our website and then one of our staff or volunteers can buy the food for our parcels.”
Mr Simmers said two staff self-isolated yesterday out of concern for their health and a volunteer stayed home, as she has a husband in his 70s and of ill-health.
“We owe a duty of care to our staff and volunteers.
“Having two out of 38 is manageable but things might get harder in future,” said Mr Simmers.
He added: “We have said to our deliverers they should leave food parcels on the doorstep, contact the recipient and watch while the parcel is collected before they leave.”
“We’re on the lookout for anyone who can be a driver for us or put together food parcels.
“The encouraging thing about the north-east is that, when we have asked for help in the past, people from this region have responded with kindness and generosity and we are tremendously grateful for that support.”
Street Friends Aberdeen usually feeds around 65 vulnerable people each evening at its base at 294 George Street and its co-founder Michelle Houghton said that has risen to 90 in recent days.
She said: “We understand that in a crisis like this people will think of their family first and we’re not asking for big deliveries of groceries.
“If people can spare a packet of biscuits or a jar of coffee, bring it in and we’d be grateful.”
Street Friends has had to halt its sit-down meals and instead is handing out meals to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
“We have put a plan in place and are keeping an eye on developments,” said Michelle.
She added: “I feel bad for the older people as they come along just as much for social contact as they do the food. That social contact has been swiped away by this virus.
“We are all grateful for the support we get from the community. The only thing I’m sure of right now is we will be here helping people, whether rain, hail or coronavirus.”