The number of Kinross-shire people using a local foodbank soared by an astonishing 1,000% during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Broke Not Broken in Kinross distributed 320 food parcels in May 2020, compared to just 32 the previous May.
And thousands more Kinross-shire people have turned to the organisation for support as the pandemic continued.
Thousands of locals
Broke Not Broken has distributed food parcels to 2,234 households since March last year, supporting 6,085 people in total.
Of those, 3,425 were children.
Between January and April this year alone, food parcels were delivered to 470 households.
This supported 1,486 people, 57% of those people being children.
Chairperson of Broke Not Broken Annie McCormack says distributing food parcels is just the first step of supporting local people.
The foodbank goes further to provide help to those who need it.
She said: “A food parcel is a start of a long road of support that we offer. It isn’t going to fix everything, it is just the first step.
“We have a Fuel Poverty Project where we look at paying off arrears and giving top ups to allow people the space to breathe out of the cycle of debt and worry for a little while.
“Since January this year we posted out vouchers to families who rely on free school meals whilst the schools were closed to students, and spent almost £18,000 to support 117 children for those 13 weeks.
“Sending out vouchers for supermarkets meant those families could shop for themselves.”
She added: “Over the last year we have moved to a delivery model.
“Previously clients would have to visit us to get food and now we deliver it to their door.
“This has meant we are able to service more clients in more rural areas who struggle with transport links.”
‘People have to be heard’
Broke Not Broken also works to give local people a voice and empower them to share their experiences.
It works to bring positive change to those living on or below the poverty line.
Annie said: “There really is no one size fits all to address the issues of poverty.
“People have to be heard, and listened to. That’s where we can give empowerment.
“And that’s when the real change happens.
“I think that’s our hope for the future, more listening, more empowerment, and more dignity.”
Set up in 2015, Broke Not Broken began as a foodbank operating from a gazebo with food being stored in a garage.
It now has a premises in The Beacon at St Paul’s Church and works with local shops and the wider community who collect and donate food.
It now also runs a local advice hub which works to give people advice before they find themselves in a crisis situation.
Food insecurity is often inextricably linked to other issues.”
Based at Loch Leven Health Centre, the hub runs every Friday.
Meanwhile, the organisation offers counselling services to support people with their mental wellbeing and a kids’ club to provide extra-curricular activities.
Annie said: “Broke Not Broken was formed by a group of likeminded people who wanted to see if there was a need for a charity to tackle poverty in Kinross-shire.
“We come from lots of different backgrounds and each of us has our own reason for being involved.
“Food insecurity is often inextricably linked to other issues, mental health issues, fuel poverty, child poverty, and a sense of being stuck.
“We do our best to listen to client’s we ask them for feedback and input on what projects would be useful to them”
She added: “Kinross in particular is seen as a fairly affluent area and we wanted to test that out.
“Six years later we are still here. We wish we weren’t.
“A lot of the poverty in our area is just under the surface. You don’t have to look very hard, but you do have to look.”