Meet the people providing food provision in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whilst queues of people hoard toilet paper, food and hand sanitiser, the people most vulnerable are left in the wake of this, ultimately making it impossible for them to pick up household essentials. That’s where community groups such as Scran Academy, Space and Whale Arts come in. These organisations have reacted fast to alter their initiatives to make sure that vulnerable groups can get access to hot meals, household essentials and even art packs to see them through these tough times. These groups already have a vital role to play in their communities but now this has ramped up more than ever.
Providing food provision with an invisible enemy lurking certainly brings its challenges. Food safety is absolutely critical when providing for vulnerable groups. In order make this possible these organisations had to take very careful measures when setting up a process to make food in a quarantined environment, package it up and send it out for delivery.
We were asked by the NHS and its partner organisations to capture some of the amazing work carried out around the city. We were briefed on how to conform to social distancing protocols which we then had to take and adapt to how we could film. For us this meant keeping more than a 2 metre distance from a subject at any time which certainly brought its limitations and challenges when it came to filming. With our big lenses at the ready we set out to capture the first food kitchen.
Our first stop, Scran Academy, is a social partnership which usually gives young people first-hand experience working in a kitchen alongside trained chefs. In reaction to Covid-19 they have taken over the Fet-Lor community hub in north Edinburgh. We visited here to catch up with the team headed up by John Loughton. They had an impressive setup which was assembled in less than a week and had everyone from professional chefs to MSPs and volunteers. On arrival you are given a solid briefing on their practices and given hand sanitiser, masks and hair nets to use at all times. We carried out several interviews and shot some of the key activities such as food preparation, packaging and the delivery process. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding days for us, getting to hear the stories from these people who give up their time to provide this invaluable service. The scale of this operation was what we found most impressive - they were turning around 300 meals a day which has now risen up to providing more than 1000!
Our second day took us to the west of Edinburgh to Space, the Broomhouse based community hub. They had a very similar setup to Scran Academy which also included the same safety protocols. They did operate a take away service where community members could come along to collect a meal. This was setup similar to what you see in supermarkets with two metre perimeter lines between each person. When speaking with manager Helene Van Der Ploeg, she said the response in the community was incredible and they were receiving great feedback from community members.
Our final day on this project took us the Whale Arts, an arts and community hub located in Wester Hailes. The day we arrived was the first day they were trialling home deliveries with food provision. Similar to the Space hub, they also provided a take away service for people to come along and get a hot meal. They also had something quite different that was art packs. Being a creative hub they had access to a great resource of art materials which they created packs for all ages. The thinking behind this was to give people something else, something more creative to do in their spare time. These ranged from bath bomb kits to watercolour painting to kids fun packs. The idea was that the recipients of the kits would report back with what they created. Another service they have set up is an online map which shows users how to find local food provision, this includes food banks, community meal takeaway, shopping services, food delivery and more. You can find more about this here.
It was really inspiring to see how these amazing organisations have re-invented themselves to provide an invaluable service for their communities. It seems they are also getting more investing and funding than ever before to support their initiatives. This is great for just now but ultimately it shows that with a bit of backing these places can really create something powerful for their communities. Let's hope this continues long after we get back to some form of normality.