Local organisations in Birmingham are working together to deliver free hot meals to the city’s vulnerable and homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.
As one of the UK’s homelessness hotspots, the need for food donations in the city has spiked since lockdown began — with foodbanks struggling to keep up with demand.
Enter Arabica Café. Pre-pandemic, the Digbeth-based eatery was committed to helping the homeless people of the city by offering free food between 9am and 2pm Monday to Friday.
However, with their doors currently closed in line with government guidelines, the owners have continued in their mission, providing local food distribution charity Feedo Needo with hundreds of hot meals for vulnerable people across the city.
Bosses at Feedo Needo, a homelessness project set up by The UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB) that distributes food throughout Birmingham City Centre, say the need for food amongst the city’s vulnerable and homeless people during the pandemic has been “unquantifiable”.
Company director Abdullah Mushtaq said: “For the vulnerable and homeless, the need for food donations during the pandemic has been unquantifiable, with many foodbanks struggling to provide and unable to keep up with the demand for their services.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Project manager Syed Nida Mazhar added: “As many families struggle with the coronavirus-related hardship, foodbanks and food distribution places such as Arabica Café remain crucial to local communities.”
The project is feeding hundreds of people in Birmingham every week. As well as the city’s vulnerable, food parcels have also been delivered to frontline workers at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the West Midlands Ambulance Service to “illustrate our gratitude for the amazing job they are doing,” Mushtaq said.
There has been no shortage of inspiring tales during the Covid-19 as people go the extra mile to feed those at risk of going hungry. Rapper Dizzee Rascal has helped out — he rolled up his sleeves to help Kitchen Social, a London-based organisation that has been co-ordinating efforts in the capital to ensure food and supplies get to the children and families who need it most.
However, with The Food Foundation’s latest YouGov survey revealing that 4.9 million adults are struggling to put food on the table – an almost 250% increase on pre-Covid-19 levels — more urgently needs to be done to reverse food poverty.