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Fledgling Fochabers Food Stop is offering hope and a helping hand

By Alan Beresford

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(From left) Jill Armitt, Dave Thow, Ann Anderson and Jane Pollard at the new Fchabers Food Stop. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
(From left) Jill Armitt, Dave Thow, Ann Anderson and Jane Pollard at the new Fchabers Food Stop. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

A FLEDGLING resource in Fochabers for local people hit hard by the cost of living crisis has been making a real difference in the community.

Fochabers Food Stop was formed in October 2023 by a dedicated band of volunteers, their mission to provide a one-stop food resource for those who need a little help.

The outdoor facility is based outside the Scout Hall on Christie Place and is available 24/7 for people to take what they need or make donations. In what is a major difference from standard food banks, there is no registration for the Food Stop, making it completely anonymous for both users and donors to take or give what they need without judgment.

In addition to food, the service offers toiletries, pet food, baby food and sanitary products.

One of the team behind the project is Jill Armitt, who explained how the innovative scheme came to be.

She said: "Many villages have food larders and it soon became clear to us that quite a few people use things like food banks or school banks.

"While Fochabers isn't a poor village every village and town has people who need to be supported. We put something out into the community to see if a service like the Food Stop was wanted and needed and it soon became clear that everyone knew someone who was struggling.

"Nobody should go without; in the short time we have been up and running it's been really busy and the Food Stop has become an essential community service used by many individuals and families, including referrals by community care teams, with very positive feedback.

"Our sponsors have been amazing and special thanks go to the Co-op shoppers and the Co-op team, Mosstodloch nursery, Fochabers Scouts, Fochabers Men’s Shed, the Fochabers Village Association, the Bearded Chef and members of the community who together have helped keep the Food Stop going over the past few months.

"It's been very satisfying to help so many people and to see such a strong community spirit in Fochabers.

"Originally the Food Stop consisted of two filing cabinets but in December we successfully applied for a small grant and with the support of the Men’s Shed now have a more suitable wooden cabinet."

Mrs Armitt went on to highlight that the anonymity aspect of the service was very important.

She continued: "It makes a big difference, there's no judgment involved, which is really crucial, just supporting people in need.

"The Food Stop is accessible for all who need it. For some people, just physically getting to a food bank in the likes of Elgin can be difficult or even impossible.

"The cost of living crisis has hit people incredibly hard so we're always grateful for donations, which can be left at the Food Stop or in the special collection basket at Fochabers Co-op. We'd also be delighted to hear from people who'd like to help out by volunteering."

Christmas proved to be a busy time for the Fochabers Food Stop team. Working in conjunction with the Bearded Chef, and with donations and referrals from the local community, including community care teams, the volunteers delivered 23 Christmas meals to those most vulnerable in the community. Family hampers were made with ready to heat meals for adults and children, selection boxes, a small gift and a selection of Christmas products were all delivered dropped off to houses in the village on Christmas Eve.

For pensioners the meals were delivered hot on Christmas Day. With the many of the pensioners valuing the human contact as much as the meal itself, Mrs Armitt said the team would be re-evaluating their approach for next Christmas.

She went on to add that it was intended to hold a number of fundraising events throughout 2024 to help build the Fochabers Food Stop service further.

Fochabers Food Stop can be contacted via email at fochabersfoodstop@yahoo.com and the group also has a Facebook page.

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