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Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre repurposed as emergency Coronavirus food distribution hub

News release from 18/08/2020

CAMBRIDGE City Council’s Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre has become a new temporary community-based centre for emergency food aid and supplies to families across Cambridge who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Cambridge Food Poverty Alliance (CFPA), a collaboration of food organisations, quickly mobilised at the start of the pandemic to develop a network of food support for vulnerable residents who were shielding or impacted by reduced or loss of income.   

The council, as a member of CPFA, has supported the food support programme in a number of ways including by providing funding and staff.  

Cambridge Sustainable Food is the lead organisation for the CPFA and has focused on: 

  • Providing community lunches for families whose children would normally have been receiving a lunch in school;
  • Home delivery meals to very vulnerable residents whose normal family and friend support networks could not continue during lockdown; and 
  • Setting up eight community fridges and food distribution hubs in different wards of the city.  

During lockdown, Cambridge Regional College (CRC) was able to provide a temporary operational hub for CFPA.  

The college opened their kitchens and furloughed chefs were redeployed from around the city to support the CPFA’s volunteers to prepare community lunches and hot meals for vulnerable residents.  

However, CRC has now had to make plans to re-open their campus for teaching, and a new operational hub for CFPA needed to be urgently found. 

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “With the end of the government furlough scheme, economic hardship will have an impact on more and more families across Cambridge. Food poverty is likely to become further reaching, more entrenched and chronic. 

“On behalf of the city I want to extend heartfelt thanks to CRC for allowing CPFA to use their kitchens when they were closed. Their generosity, and that of so many volunteers and local businesses, has allowed us to help hundreds of people in need. 

“We need to make sure that there is no interruption to the work that is being done to combat food poverty. I’m delighted that we are able to offer Buchan Street Community Centre as a venue for this essential work while we look for a more permanent venue for the new food hub which was announced in the council’s budget proposals back in February. 

“No-one in our city should be going hungry, and Cambridge City Council will continue to work with our wonderful partner organisations to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone in our city has enough to eat.”