Martin Whitfield MSP has visited East Lothian Foodbank to meet its new Manager Elaine Morrison for an update on the charity’s work during the pandemic and plans for developing its role as we move into the recovery period.

Mr Whitfield, who had been a supporter of the charity during his time as the county’s MP, thanked staff and volunteers for their important contribution to the fight against Covid, which included responding to a surge in new referrals for food parcels during the crisis.

Speaking afterwards, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“A growth in food insecurity and poverty was one of the earliest impacts of the pandemic. Communities rallied around to help those who were shielding or self-isolating, as well as those who lost their livelihoods or suffered reduced incomes, and East Lothian Foodbank was at the heart of the support provided.

“Working in partnership with other local charities and groups, the foodbank has continued to provide vital food parcels for local families in crisis throughout the pandemic. The service it provides became more important than ever and has been a real lifeline for those it has helped.

“I welcomed the opportunity to catch up on the work undertaken by staff and volunteers and thank everyone involved in the charity for the crucial role they have played in the response to the pandemic locally.

“I was also pleased to discuss their ideas for developing the foodbank’s role and helping prevent food poverty as we enter the Covid recovery phase. They’re backing wider efforts to end hunger and the need for foodbanks and I will do all I can in this parliament to support that goal.”

Elaine Morrison, Foodbank Manager, said:

“2020 saw us give out the most parcels we’d ever given out in a 12-month period (3078) and worryingly, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups, including many new ones, that provided emergency food during the pandemic.

“Over the next three years we’ll be working to implement our new strategy continuing to work with, and for, our community to ensure that people without enough money for food are able to access emergency support whilst also exploring ways to reduce the need for our service.

“Ultimately, we don’t think it’s right that any of us are forced to turn to any charity for emergency food and we are fully committed to supporting our community whilst working towards a time when we are not needed. We want to see a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”