Uist set to open island’s first food bank

Polygrubs will help grow food on Uist to feed supplies to the new foodbank

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People hungry for food bank help on Uist should be able to get it by the end of April.

Support organisations behind the project are now adding the finishing touches and its doors should be open soon.

Tagsa Uibhist Community Services Manager Murdina Naylor said: ‘We hope it will be open by the end of this month. There’s just a few wee bits to finish off. We’ve been inundated through the community supplying us with produce. We are all stocked up and ready to go.’

The food banks on Uist at Balivanich’s East Camp and on Barra are a partnership between a number of organisations including Tagsa, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Hebridean Housing Partnership.

Exactly how many families or individuals will make use of the new food banks is unknown, but Ms Naylor said: ‘There’s enough for us to have got to this stage. It’s very sad but there is the demand.

‘It’s just like any other community.  You have a need on the mainland and we have a need on the islands. We have the highest level of fuel poverty here and jobs have been lost recently.

People needing the help of food banks could be short term or long term – there’s no stigma attached to it. Some people could be going through that spell of do I buy food or pay the bills? We hope to be able to help them do both.’

She added: ‘The Barra project is a bit behind, but not far off. We wanted to get Uist up and running.’

The Uist food bank will open three or four times a week and be run by volunteers. More helping hands are still needed.

As part of the project, fresh supplies are being grown in eight polycrub tunnels, helped by funding, including some from Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Climate Challenge Fund, so people can go and pick their own.

Previously, people needing food bank help on Uist had to wait for delivery of food parcels from Stornoway on Lewis.

‘People didn’t always need what was in the boxes so there was the risk of waste. The idea of having our own food bank on our doorstep is that produce will be on shelves so people will be able to come in and get what they need,’ added Ms Naylor.