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Freemasons launch Square Meals scheme in Sudbury to help keep essential food items on residents' tables



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A new charity-run food delivery scheme aims to put essentials on the tables of 40 people this week, as it seeks to help struggling local businesses, as well as the rising food poverty crisis brought about by coronavirus.

The Sudbury branch of the Suffolk Freemasons launched a not-for-profit community venture called Square Meals last week, offering deliveries of boxes with three days of basic food items to create healthy meals for two people.

Assembled by volunteers at the Sudbury Masonic Hall in North Street, the boxes contain food supplied by local businesses, such as butchers, bakers and wholesalers, to provide them with another source of income while trade is low during the public lockdown.

The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Kevin Polley and Cathy O'Neill...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337097)
The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Kevin Polley and Cathy O'Neill...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337097)

As a non-profit venture, the Freemasons have also pledged to donate the savings it generates to the Storehouse foodbank in Sudbury, supporting its efforts to provide emergency food aid.

The foodbank reported that it fed 259 adults and 238 children in April – a year-on-year increase in demand of 58 per cent – as a result of financial pressures on individuals and families, due to the pandemic.

Freemasons member Kevin Polley said that, unlike the foodbank, Square Meals is aimed at people who are already spending money on food, but would like an alternative way to receive it, rather than having to congregate at supermarkets.

The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Adam Rhodes gathering the vegetables...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337081)
The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Adam Rhodes gathering the vegetables...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337081)

But he explained a key component of the scheme is to assist the Storehouse’s ongoing efforts, and anyone who places an order with Square Meals will be asked if they would like to donate a little extra to go towards the foodbank.

“The way it started was I realised that one of the problems we were going to face as we went into lockdown is how we would all get our food,” Kevin told the Free Press.

“Square Meals came about from that need to potentially help feed lots of families in the immediate catchment area of the masonic hall.

The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Anthony Lyster picking out the goods for the boxes...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337080)
The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Anthony Lyster picking out the goods for the boxes...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337080)

“When everything started really taking shape, it became obvious that local businesses were going to suffer, so working with local businesses – to be able to provide good staple foods to keep people healthy – just made a lot of sense.

“The second part of this is to help raise awareness of the problems that the Storehouse foodbank in Sudbury is facing. Food poverty is something we are all going to have to address.

“Everybody is in a position where we don’t really know what’s happening out there.

The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Bill Dotesio-Eyers making the boxes up, ready for the items...PICTURE: Mecha Morton ... (34337079)
The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Bill Dotesio-Eyers making the boxes up, ready for the items...PICTURE: Mecha Morton ... (34337079)

“The advantages of having a regular delivery of basic staples ... it’s hard to put a price on that.

“If more people start working together to support their local businesses and local community groups that are trying to keep food on tables, that can only be a good thing.”

Mr Polley also paid tribute to Sudbury Masonic Hall manager Cathy O’Neill and the team of 12 volunteers who have made the venture possible, adding that anybody interested in volunteering to support the scheme should contact the hall.

The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Kevin Polley packing up the parcels ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337082)
The Suffolk Freemasons are running a Square Meals delivery service for residents in and around Sudbury..Pictured: Kevin Polley packing up the parcels ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (34337082)

Priced at £33 each, the Square Meals food boxes contain one loaf of bread, 900g of chicken breasts, 2kg of potatoes, one block of butter, 300g of back bacon, one cauliflower, two litres of milk, 500g of minced beef, 300g of green beans, 40 tea bags, a gammon joint, 500g of onions, a jar of coffee, two tins of soup, 500g of carrots, six eggs, 500g of pasta and a jar of pasta sauce.

To place an order, call 07974 710101. For more information on the scheme, go to sudburymasoniccentre.co.uk/square-meals.