Farm Fresh Revolution charity extends food drops to help those in need during Covid-19 crisis

Farm Fresh Revolution charity extends food drops to help those in need during Covid-19 crisis

At a time when good news seems hard to come by, we wanted to share a positive update from our charity, Farm Fresh Revolution. The charity was founded by Rob and Sally Mercer, and supported by the Mercer Family Charitable Foundation. It aims is to educate and inspire families to eat more fresh food and improve public health.

Deliveries usually only take place during school term times. But, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, Farm Fresh Revolution announced in April that it would extend its fresh food drops to help families most in need across our local community. With the help of Rob, Sally, and Operations Manager, Rachel Sherratt, the team extended the service through the Easter holidays, and hope to continue through half term and the summer holidays too. It’s also working with local community hubs to connect society’s most vulnerable with much needed fresh food.

The charity, now in its third year, runs a term-time, fortnightly “market stall” at nine primary schools, across eight locations in some of Staffordshire’s lowest income towns. Alternating between venues each week, the project is staffed by a group of volunteers who hand out the “essential grocery bag,” stocked with fresh vegetables, fruit and meat; all sourced from local farmers.

Upon the introduction of the government’s COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing, Farm Fresh Revolution was initially forced to halt deliveries to protect the health of its volunteers alongside that of the staff and families at the schools it serves.

Fully aware that many families would be facing further financial hardship due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Farm Fresh team were determined to get back on the road in whatever way they could. Every Friday, Rob, Sally and Rachel now load a van with fresh produce, at their base at Blakenhall Park, Barton Under Needwood, and drive to seven schools and community centres across Cannock, Tamworth, Burton and Stoke. Working alongside school staff and community workers, they’ve created a system which allows them to follow official Government guidelines and drop the food in bulk safely. Representatives from each location then liaise with families to organise pick up times to ensure the food gets to those who need it most. At Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre, staff are even jumping in their own cars to deliver food to those in need.

As panic-buying continues to put unprecedented pressure on supermarkets and national delivery services, Sally Mercer said Farm Fresh Revolution is committed to being a part of the solution long term. “We are giving more funding to the Farm Fresh Revolution project at this time, and we are fully aware we need to be ready for the long haul. We know there are a lot of people in these areas who will be struggling for money or access to fresh healthy food and we need and want to support them through this. We have plans in place to continue weekly drops for the foreseeable future.”

“There has been a real shift for us over the last few weeks in response to this crisis,” continued Sally Mercer. “Farm Fresh Revolution has always been targeted through schools, as part of an effort to educate families about healthy eating. Our mission is to empower people to eat more fresh food, to cook more meals from scratch and in turn, to hopefully improve public health. That message and service is still vital for the families we serve, but we’re very aware that during this time there will be others within the community in desperate need of our help. We usually distribute 250 bags a week to the communities we serve. We’re upping that in the current climate to 300-350 bags a week. We’re working to get food out to community centres enabling them to help the elderly and vulnerable, and to ensure we reach members of the public who are perhaps isolating or struggling to make ends meet due to unemployment as a result of the outbreak.”

“We are extremely grateful to our local farmers, whose support and on-going supply of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and eggs, is essential to keeping our project on the road. As farmers ourselves, we are fully aware of the pressures the food and supply chain is under, but we’re proud to see British Farmers rising to the challenge of keeping fresh food in plentiful supply.”

Farm Fresh Revolution will be making weekly bulk drops at Anglesey Primary Academy in Burton, Amington Heath Primary School in Tamworth, Sandon Primary Academy in Stoke, The Crescent Academy in Stoke, Redhill Primary School in Cannock and the following two community centres: Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre in Burton and Middleport Matters Community Hub in Stoke. Families usually served by Farm Fresh can contact their school for information on collection. Information will also be shared via the charity’s Facebook page.

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