UHI boost local food bank stocks

Following the closure of campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, colleges across the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) partnership are supporting local food banks by donating unused produce from their canteens.

Catering staff across the UHI network were keen to ensure that food did not go to waste and decided to donate it all to local food banks, with groups in Elgin, Inverness, Oban, Orkney, Fort William and Perth all benefiting. The gifted supplies include essentials such as fruit, vegetables, pasta, milk, bread and eggs.

Theresa Bain, Argyll College UHI’s Oban Learning Centre Manager, said:

“We have a practical teaching kitchen on site which doubles as a staff and student canteen. We had a lot of food in reserve for future cooking and our Principal, Martin Jones, was keen to donate our reserves to a local food bank.

“I gathered up our supplies, loaded them into a college car and delivered them to Hope Kitchen, a well-known charitable organisation in Oban which provides hot meals and food parcels for people on low income or who need a bit of company.”

As panicked shoppers across the country empty supermarket shelves and hoard goods amid the pandemic, food banks that depend on donations are struggling to stay afloat. The shortages have made it difficult for charities to source items to make up food parcels, forcing some to close. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that lockdown measures mean many vulnerable families who depend on food parcels to survive are no longer able to go outdoors and travel to food banks to bring in supplies.

On food banks’ depleted resources, Ms Bain added:

“The charity was extremely grateful for the help. They were particularly pleased to get pasta as there was none to be had in Oban and yeast sachets as they could use them to bake their own bread.”