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Coronavirus Lockdown: Farm Fresh Revolution extends fresh food drops to help families most in need across local community

Farm Fresh Revolution, a charity set up to educate and inspire families to eat more fresh food and improve public health, has announced plans to extend its reach amid the current Covid-19 crisis. The charity, which usually only operates through schools during term time, will continue to deliver food parcels for its families during school holidays. It’s also working with local community hubs to connect society’s most vulnerable with much needed fresh food.

The charity, now in its third year, runs a term-time, fortnightly “market stall,” at nine primary schools, across eight locations in some of Staffordshire’s lowest income towns. Alternating between venues each week, the project is staffed by a group of volunteers who hand out the “essential grocery bag,” stocked with fresh vegetables, fruit and meat; all sourced from local farmers.

Upon the introduction of the government’s COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing, Farm Fresh Revolution was forced to halt deliveries to protect the health of its volunteers alongside that of the staff and families at the schools it serves.

Fully aware that many families would be facing further financial hardship due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Farm Fresh team were determined to get back on the road in whatever way they could.

Operations Manager, Rachel Sherratt and Founders, Sally and Rob Mercer, have now taken matters in to their own hands. Each Friday, Rob, Sally and Rachel each load a van with fresh produce, at their base at Blakenhall Park, Barton Under Needwood, and drive to seven schools and community centres across Cannock, Tamworth, Burton and Stoke. Working alongside school staff and community workers, they’ve created a system which allows them to follow official Government guidelines and drop the food in bulk safely. Representatives from each location then liaise with families to organise pick up times to ensure the food gets to those who need it most. At Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre, staff are even jumping in their own cars to deliver food to those in need.

As panic-buying continues to put unprecedented pressure on supermarkets and national delivery services, Sally Mercer said Farm Fresh Revolution is committed to being a part of the solution long term. The project, which was founded by Rob and Sally Mercer, and supported by the Mercer Family Charitable Foundation, usually runs during school term times only. But, Mrs Mercer said the charity hopes to extend its services through the Easter and Summer school holidays, when they feel families will need it most. “We are giving more funding to the Farm Fresh Revolution project at this time, and we are fully aware we need to be ready for the long haul. We know there are a lot of people in these areas who will be struggling for money or access to fresh healthy food and we need and want to support them through this. We won’t deliver this week, due to Good Friday, but we’ll be back out next week and have plans in place to continue weekly drops for the foreseeable future.”

“There has been a real shift for us over the last few weeks in response to this crisis. Farm Fresh Revolution has always been targeted through schools, as part of an effort to educate families about healthy eating. Our mission is to empower people to eat more fresh food, to cook more meals from scratch and in turn, to hopefully improve public health. That message and service is still vital for the families we serve, but we’re very aware that during this time there will be others within the community in desperate need of our help. We usually distribute 250 bags a week to the communities we serve. We’re upping that in the current climate to 300-350 bags a week. We’re working to get food out to community centres enabling them to help the elderly and vulnerable, and to ensure we reach members of the public who are perhaps isolating or struggling to make ends meet due to unemployment as a result of the outbreak.”

“Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic we have lost a key funder to the charity, as they’ve been hit hard financially due to having to close much of their own business. We are hoping to find another key funding partner to help us to deliver food to these areas, particularly in these difficult times when so many families will have to go without all but the very basics.”

“We are extremely grateful to our local farmers, whose support and on-going supply of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and eggs, is essential to keeping our project on the road. As farmers ourselves, we are fully aware of the pressures the food and supply chain is under, but we’re proud to see British Farmers rising to the challenge of keeping fresh food in plentiful supply.”

From Friday 17th April, Farm Fresh Revolution will be making weekly bulk drops at Anglesey Primary Academy in Burton, Amington Heath Primary School in Tamworth, Sandon Primary Academy in Stoke, The Crescent Academy in Stoke, Redhill Primary School in Cannock and the following two community centres: Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre in Burton and Middleport Matters Community Hub in Stoke. Families usually served by Farm Fresh can contact their school for information on collection. Information will also be shared via the charity’s Facebook page.

For more information:
Sally Mercer – Founder – Telephone: 07966 521881 – Email: sallymercer@mercerfarming.com
Rachel Sherratt – Operations Manager – Telephone: 07419 991225 – Email: rachelsherratt@packingtonfreerange.co.uk
Helen Vydelingum – Marketing & Social Media Manager – Telephone: 07957 465371 – Email: helen@packingtonfreerange.co.uk

Press Release Date: Tuesday 7th April

Notes for editors:
Farm Fresh Revolution
The aim of the project is to educate and inspire families to eat more fresh food and by doing so improving public health. We want to introduce families with young children to the benefits of healthy fresh food. Getting children excited about eating more healthily is one of our primary objectives. So by distributing our food through local primary schools, we can educate the school children and their parents about the necessity of freshly grown, healthy food.

We get the food direct from local farmers, load it up in our refrigerated vans on a Friday afternoon and set up our ‘market-stall’ at a number of primary schools before pick-up time on a Friday (term time). We chat to parents and children whilst they pick their food and put it in their shopping bags, and we give them a pre-packed (biodegradable) bag with their meat and eggs from the van.

What’s in the Bag?
Fruit: Typically bananas, apples and satsumas.
Vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, onions and parsnips (or other seasonal veg).
Fresh free-range sausages.
Fresh free-range diced chicken.
Half a dozen free-range eggs.
Where possible, all the food is sourced from local farms. Some of the vegetables and fruit may change according to availability.

Within its first year, Farm Fresh Revolution created a successful ‘grocery bag’ pilot project in Staffordshire, including;
• Establishment of successful partnerships with 9 local primary schools as delivery hubs (across 8 sites).
• Creation of an ‘essential’ grocery bag in partnership with 6 suppliers including meat, vegetables & fruit.
• Use of existing distribution networks to deliver into the schools once every two weeks.
• Establishment of a small network of volunteers to help with packing and delivery each week.
• Completion of a baseline study for each school of parental shopping habits and food-related health awareness.
• Increase in the number of families reached at each school to circa 65 families per week.
• Running of a competition to encourage parents to engage with us via a survey on the difference (if any) the food bags make to them. This survey demonstrated a 55% Increase in the number of families who now cook their meals from scratch, a 73% Increase in families now eating fruit and veg as a snack at least once a day and a 76% Increase in families including fruit and veg in their diet more than half of the time.

www.farmfreshrevolution.com
Facebook: @farmfreshrevolution
Twitter: @FarmFreshRev

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© 2020 Farm Fresh Revolution | CIO Charity Number: 1179700
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