AN URGENT appeal has been launched to help vulnerable and isolated people during the coronavirus crisis.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership (BHFP) aims to raise £15,000 to support people at risk of going hungry at home in the city, as the effects of the coronavirus crisis take their toll.

As residents have suffered job losses and reduced incomes and older people are advised to self-isolate, BHFP say demand for food is going to be higher than it ever has been.

But the existing food bank model could put people at risk of infection, as members of the public handling food items could spread the virus further.

Instead the charity is asking for monetary donations so they can source food and other essential items for safe distribution.

Some 246 supporters have already raised more than £9,000 for the Hungry at Home appeal in just four days.

The BHFP is coordinating the appeal on behalf of the 17 food banks in the city, as well as key organisation including Fareshare, who distribute to all food banks, the Real Junk Food Project who create pay-as-you-feel meals from surplus food and community benefit society The Bevy, who are starting a Food Factory to make meals.

Toni Finnimore, founder of community group the Social Society, which is raising money for BHFP through their Brighton Community Fund, said it was urgent to help the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis, as panic buying has made it even harder for people to access food.

She said: “It’s extremely worrying.

“Food banks are in crisis now and we need to do something quick.”

BHFP plans to cook and package healthy meals in bulk to supply to those living in poverty, who are unable to leave their homes because of the virus.

This includes helping families in isolation who previously relied on free school dinners for their children to have at least one hot meal a day.

The charity also hopes to set up neighbourhood hubs, such as in school kitchens and children’s centres, where volunteers can pick up parcels and meals to deliver to people in their community safely with no physical contact, but also to “offer a chance for social connection where possible”.

BHFP wants to recruit, train and support existing and new volunteers, who will need to work to high standards of food safety and hygiene in packaging and delivering items.

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