Social Bite to double production of free lunches as demand soars

A charity making free packed lunches for vulnerable Scots during the coronavirus lockdown intends to double its production as demand soars.

Social Bite closed its five social enterprise cafes earlier this month, with staff switching roles to provide free meals for struggling families.

Last week, the charity handed out 15,000 food packs around Scotland, consisting of a sandwich, a piece of fruit, crisps and a drink.

Over the next seven days, it intends to scale up production to 30,000 a week.

Social Bite has raised more than £115,000 for the initiative through a crowdfunding page.

The packed lunches are given to homeless people as well as those who are struggling financially.

Charity co-founder Josh Littlejohn warned food poverty could quickly become one of the most difficult issues of the Covid-19 epidemic.

He told the PA news agency: “We are seeing more people in an increasingly desperate situation as the crisis deepens.

“Obviously homeless people can’t easily self-isolate or stock up cupboards and fridges and many of the services they rely on have closed down.

“So this demographic of people really need our support.”

He added: “But wider than homelessness, we are seeing an increase in families who were reliant on free school meals and thousands of people being made redundant with no savings and no immediate access to benefits.

“Food poverty will be one of the biggest challenges for many people over the period of this crisis.”

Mr Littlejohn said companies which had ceased trading due to the coronavirus lockdown would be asked to help with the free meals where possible.

Social Bite is currently delivering the free packed lunches in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, where they are distributed via community groups and other charities.

He said: “We are planning to encourage other businesses that have had to stop trading to collaborate, such as tourist industry companies with minibuses and other restaurants, to maximise what can be produced and delivered to homeless people and other vulnerable communities.”

Around one-third of Social Bite’s cafe staff have experienced homelessness at some point and other initiatives run by the charity include the World’s Big Sleep Out fundraising drive.

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