Social supermarket distributed £57k in food vouchers

Healthy eating is on the menu for participants of ‘The Food Programme’ hosted by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
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The course is being served up in association with community groups in the borough’s seven district electoral areas. On the menu is nutrition, batch cooking, budgeting and food shopping and use of slow cookers and air fryers.

The weekly sessions will take place during March and as well as cookery lessons and a hot meal, it is expected the course will help to tackle loneliness and isolation. Funding of £6,000 was provided through the Northern Healthy Lifestyles Partnership.

A report to the council’s Operations Committee, which is due to meet on Monday evening, says the ‘Warm Welcome’ course is attended by between 25 and 30 people via referrals from Community Advice Antrim and Newtownabbey and those who have used the council’s Social Supermarket programme.

Budgeting and food shopping are covered during the sessions.Budgeting and food shopping are covered during the sessions.
Budgeting and food shopping are covered during the sessions.

During the pandemic, the local authority supplied more than 50 households across the borough, who had been shielding, with slow cooker starter kits. A social supermarket pilot scheme established in the borough in November distributed £57,000 worth of food vouchers in the run-up to Christmas, according to council minutes.

Support Service

The support service has been funded to the tune of almost £150k and offers advice to those referred as a result of food poverty, as well as food vouchers. It has provided aid to 265 households in the borough until December 22. Forty-three adults are in employment.

Seventy-one households have been able to access additional benefits as a result of the service and 102 have been signposted to other support services. Forty-eight households have been given budgeting and debt advice. In addition, the Save the Children charity provided 700 new toys for distribution by Community Advice Antrim and Newtownabbey.

An update on the pilot scheme was provided for councillors behind closed doors at the January meeting of the Community Services Committee. A member highlighted concern regarding public access to information on the council’s website and social media regarding help available and requested if this could be followed up.

Minutes of the meeting say the social supermarket scheme is scheduled to end in March.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter