The volunteers delivering hundreds of food parcels and isolation packs in Leeds and Wakefield

A charity which has delivered  hundreds of food parcels and isolation packs to  people in Leeds and Wakefield during the coronavirus lockdown is appealing for donations so  it can continue its work.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 2:25 pm

Adam Smith, who founded the Real Junk Food Project, is calling for help with funding to support the charity’s efforts in feeding the vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the last three weeks, volunteers have delivered a total of 800 isolation packs made up of food and other essentials to people in isolation in Leeds and Wakefield.

And 303 food parcels have been provided free-of-charge to NHS staff in Leeds and Wakefield.

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Adam Smith (left) with NHS workers and foodboxes in a photograph taken pre social distancing.

In the community, 7.5 tonnes of food are being delivered to 31 hubs in Leeds by The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) every day - around 17,000 meals worth of food.

Hubs include those feeding the most vulnerable in the city including St George’s Crypt, New Wortley Community Centre, Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Leeds and Bramley Rehabilitation Centre, BARCA.

The charity already supplied food to 19 schools in West Yorkshire and over the Easter holiday seven of those schools are still open in Wakefield and four in Leeds.

The project is providing food to feed around 600 children each day with lunch grab bags and giving food to vulnerable families.

In Leeds, smaller numbers of children are in school but TRJFP is feeding around 400 children and families a day with lunch bags and food distribution.

Adam Smith mobilised the project's network of food suppliers, distributors and volunteers on Monday March 23 from the charity’s HQ in Wakefield, and via temporary sites in Leeds.

Mr Smith, said: “When the lockdown was announced, vast quantities of food were stuck in the supply chain whilst supermarket shelves were stripped bare of essentials.

"Hundreds of people were stuck in self-isolation without the necessary supplies, or the opportunity to go out and get them.

"Equally, there were videos of desperate NHS staff, finishing their shifts only to be greeted with empty shelves at the supermarkets. Due to our existing networks we were able to mobilise quickly and help those who needed it most, when they needed it.”

The project has provided food to the team at Wakefield Street Kitchen, who have been making and delivering meals to 130 staff at Pinderfields Hospital and 20 homeless people every day for the last three weeks.

The charity has also supplied food to My Thai restaurants in Leeds who are feeding over 1,000 NHS staff every day.

Mr Smith added: “The huge challenge now is getting food to those who are struggling in the community. We are hearing deeply upsetting stories every day of how coronavirus is tearing families apart and of extreme hardship.

"People are losing their jobs and unable to afford food. The support services that the vulnerable rely on are being stripped away. We want to help as many people as possible, but the scale of this crisis is growing every day and we only have limited resources which are stretched to the hilt.”

Food has been donated from a range of suppliers, caterers and retailers.

Donations have included 750,000 eggs from YPO, 21.6 tonnes of milk from McDonalds via Arla and 360 Easter eggs from Wilko.

Donations have also been received from Greggs, Subway, KFC, Burger King, Fridays, Seabrooks crisps, Bundobust Leeds, Martin Brower, Dimple Well Lodge Hotel Ossett, Hotel St Pierre Wakefield, Cannasa botanical drinks, Iceland, Muller, The Stanley Pub, Morrison’ Wetherby, Morrisons Elland, Meadow Foods, Whitbread and more.

Mr Smith added: “The support we’ve had from the food industry has been amazing. We have a dedicated team of volunteers who make all of this happen, sometimes I’m amazed at how we keep going, but we do.

“However, we need funds to keep going. We’ve received no council or Government funding to carry out this essential work.

"We are stretched to the max and the costs associated with managing this effort and transporting the food to where it is needed - labour, fuel, transport - are massive. Our waste collection costs alone have sky-rocketed because the more food we accept, the more packaging waste is created. If anyone can help us with these challenges then please, please get in touch.”

The charity has teamed up with the Too Good To Go app to sell boxes of produce for £10 in order to fund some of its work and prevent food going to waste. So far, 845 Too Good To Go boxes have been collected in Leeds and 1,217 in Wakefield, this equates to 20.6 tonnes of food.

To make a donation to TRJFP’s campaign visit: https://trjfp.com/donate/To download the Too Good To Go app, and support TRJFP by ordering a ‘magic box’ of food, visit: https://toogoodtogo.co.uk/