Abbeycroft Leisure in Bury St Edmunds provide 58,500 meals to support those in need
A leisure company has delivered almost 60,000 plates of food since 2020 to help struggling families and individuals.
Abbeycroft Leisure and partners are responsible for delivering more than 58,500 meals, meal boxes and activity sessions to the people of Bury St Edmunds.
Another 200 Christmas meals and hampers will be delivered today thanks to help from students, volunteers and councillors.
Frank Carn-Pryor, Abbeycroft’s Sports and Outdoor Activity Officer, said: “I’m incredibly proud to be part of the success of these projects and although it has taken a lot of my energy and resource, knowing that we have made a genuine difference to people’s lives makes it all worthwhile.
“Thanks to Abbeycroft’s willingness to work in partnership and deliver these much needed services, I’ve been able to coordinate a year-long programme with the help of many, many people.
“The support again from our funders, partners, volunteers and local businesses has been overwhelming and I’m hopeful we can continue to further develop the projects.”
Three projects, Festive Food, Reducing Isolation with Food (RIF) and Family Park Cooking, have been running since July 2020 and all share a common goal of supporting vulnerable families.
The Festive Food project and RIF has delivered 11,500 meals since 2020 providing heat-at-home meals throughout the year to isolated adults spending Christmas alone.
This food is prepared by the students at West Suffolk College and delivered by the Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw team as well as town councillors and volunteers.
Claire Waterson from West Suffolk College, said: "Now more than ever it's essential we think of others. Especially at this time of year.
"Therefore, it was an easy decision for the culinary arts team based at West Suffolk College's restaurant called Edmunds to step up and once again support this fantastic community project."
Rachel Thomas, Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw said: “We are delighted to be involved in the RIF project.
“Our volunteers really enjoy the conversations they have with our clients on the phone beforehand and on the doorstep when we deliver.
“We are always looking for more people to take up the offer of a lovely lunch delivered to the door.”
Family Park Cooking has delivered 47,000 meals since 2020 with its free school holiday cooking sessions for families facing financial difficulties.
Along with fun activities in an outdoor environment, Family Park Cooking provides families with a meal box each week with recipes and videos to help create simple and affordable meals.
The project was made possible through the government’s Holiday Activity Fund and supported by West Suffolk Council and Babergh District Council.
Cllr Robert Everitt, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities, said: “Through the Government’s HAF fund, we are helping coordinate and support a host of holiday activities across West Suffolk this Christmas.
“The Explore Outdoor events run by our leisure partner Abbeycroft are particularly great in that, as well as the fun activities, they also provide the ingredients for some wonderful, healthy meals that families can make and cook together at home.”
Cllr Mary McLaren, Babergh District Council cabinet member for Communities and Wellbeing, said: “Delivering this support has never been as important as it is this winter, with our residents facing unprecedented challenges and higher prices for fuel, housing and food.
“These sessions and packages provide not just food, but the skills to make food go further and quality time for children, parents and carers.
“The council continues to support these sessions and we are glad Abbeycroft accessed our Winter Warmth Support Grant to allow their leisure centres to open as warm spaces for this winter.”
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds added: "58,500 meals is 58,500 plates of happiness delivered to people living in hardship.
“Food binds us together and as a society, reaching out, combating loneliness and helping those whose lives just aren’t as they want them to be, is what this project is all about.
“Where we can support other people, that's what makes Bury special. Live in our community and share in our community and at this time of year, nothing can be more important."