A DEDICATED team working to help keep vulnerable families fed has received a huge donation at a time demand is going 'through the roof'.

Cheshire Food Hub, which is run by the Changing Lives Together charity, stores goods and coordinates supplies for food banks across the county – including Mid Cheshire Foodbank.

The Northwich-based organisation has received a massive donation to help support struggling families this winter from Harlech Foodservice.

It includes 80 bumper boxes of 96 Weetabix – enough for several thousand breakfasts – plus 63 packets of chilli con carne sauce, more than £200 worth of bread roll mix, hot chocolate and a host of other non-perishable items.

Jo Garner, from Changing Lives Together, said: "We’re really grateful to Harlech because we realised there was going to be a huge demand from food banks across the county.

"During the summer we were feeding about 5,000 children with food boxes, but we’ve now moved to a bigger long-term base in Northwich which means we can look to buy in bulk and take donations of food from many sources.

Northwich Guardian: The Food Hub has received enough Weetabix for several thousand breakfasts. Image: Mandy JonesThe Food Hub has received enough Weetabix for several thousand breakfasts. Image: Mandy Jones

"We’re pin-pointing those who are in most desperate need so that’s where items like the Weetabix family packs donated by Harlech will be going."

Food stored at Cheshire Food Hub is sent out from the Northwich base to more than 20 food banks, from Chester in the west to Macclesfield in the east of the county.

Jo says demand is growing at a faster rate than expected, with the group now looking for more vans to take on the 'logistical exercise'.

She added: "The idea of the food hub is that we take the pressure off the individual food banks who are busy enough without having to manage deliveries from various sources so instead we can co-ordinate them from here.

“But things are starting to go through the roof now with the number of referrals to food banks twice as high as they were in October so the plan is for us to supplement the food they already have.

“We can identify things that have a short shelf life and get them out as quickly as possible and if things are going to waste then we can pass them on quickly.

“At the same time we are trying to carry out a survey to find out how many people the food banks are supporting and how they have arrived there because these food banks are all run by volunteers and they are exhausted.”

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Ceri Brown, digital project manager at Harlech Foodservice, organised the delivery.

She said: "We have often donated to food banks, but with the pandemic the need is so great and – inspired by Marcus Rashford – we wanted to do more.

“The effect of the [November] lockdown was to leave us with plenty of stock so we have made arrangements and delivered to the Cheshire Food Hub at Northwich, and with our new depot in Chester we are hoping to help out a lot more in that area."