Part of my role at The Food Chain is to count things, to crunch the numbers. We do this so that we can quantify what it is we do in some way, so that we can demonstrate to all those who support our work financially that their money is being well spent, that we have an impact. Sometimes that feels like a routine, if necessary task that doesn’t really convey what we do and reducing our work to numbers doesn’t really tell the story. But sometimes the numbers really do speak volumes, and this is one of those times. So, here’s a few to be going on with.
We closed the kitchen on March 13th and shifted the focus of our service to delivering essential groceries to people at home, knowing that for the majority of our service users, home is where they need to be to stay safe during the Covid19 crisis.
In the 7 weeks that followed, we arranged 419 food parcel deliveries to people’s homes, at a cost of just under £21,000. This is equivalent to 18,000 meals for the benefit of 550 people living in households across London.
Usually, we would have between 70-80 households on our list for the grocery delivery service at any one time. Having received almost four times our usual number of referrals from the NHS, social care and other HIV support charities, we now have over 300 households on that list. Most of our service users will need help with groceries throughout their time of self-isolation, which for some is likely to be many months.
I find the numbers interesting in their way, and especially for the way they demonstrate how tremendously effective our response has been. How the staff team and our hard-working volunteers have achieved this is to be applauded and celebrated.
We have made a great difference to hundreds of lives in a very short period of time, and we will go on doing so for the duration of the Covid19 crisis.
The thing that most strikes me about the numbers though is the human story they tell. We are all feeling the impact of the Covid19 crisis and our daily lives are greatly altered, but behind these numbers are hundreds of people for whom this crisis means they cannot leave home, and they cannot access essential food supplies without help. Before Covid19 a great many of the people who are now on service with us were doing fine, or getting by OK, they were managing. Now they not, and for every single one of them life is far more difficult than it was. The Food Chain has always been about supporting the people living with HIV in London who have the greatest needs. This has never been illustrated better than it is now, in these numbers.
At this time of crisis, the numbers do tell a story and it is one with many layers. We provide food and nutrition support, and above all else, we provide nourishment, which everyone at The Food Chain knows is about so much more than the raw ingredients.