A FOOD company and the Rotary Club have stepped in with a £100,000 support package to help a project that feeds the homeless in York.

York Vikings Rotary Club and specialist potato company Cockerill have teamed up to help Hoping York Street Kitchen feed the city’s homeless during the pandemic.

The first £500 consignment of staple food supplies from Rotary4foodbanks was delivered to Cockerill’s Dunnington warehouse complex this week.

Hoping York has been feeding people in need since 2016 and by March this year there were regularly more than 75 people attending their Sunday and Wednesday evening free street kitchen and informal foodbank in King’s Square.

As the homeless were found temporary accommodation during lockdown, the Hoping York team switched to providing a hot meals delivery service to the hotels and hostels where they were being housed.

Hoping York’s operations manager Yvette Thirlwell, said: “Until now we have relied on donations from supermarkets and other retailers, as well as the public, to stock the foodbank we run for the hungry and vulnerable in the city. Now, thanks to York Vikings Rotary nominating us for the Rotary4foodbanks scheme, we have received our first consignment of vital food supplies to keep our shelves stocked for the winter."

Cockerill, which employs around 150 people locally, offered to provide warehousing space to store the non-perishable supplies donated through the Rotary4foodbanks scheme. They have also pledged to supply top quality potatoes for the meals Hoping York volunteers prepare. "We are a local and a family business and we understand the hardship many people are suffering through no fault of their own in these difficult times. We are delighted to play our part,” says MD Martin Cockerill.

Rotary4foodbanks is a regional initiative. Rotary clubs pool funds they raise - over £100,000 since June - and the R4FB team buys food in bulk at wholesale prices which it then distributes free to around 50 foodbanks. Currently these are mostly in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. As the Rotary scheme looks to expand nationally, this is the first delivery to North Yorkshire.

Earlier this year the new president of York Vikings Rotary Club Mick Fox pledged that local Rotarians would provide even more support for community projects as the post-Covid recession bites. He said: “Our motto of ‘service before self’ has never been more relevant. We have a great track record of providing support for organisations like young people’s homeless charity SASH and domestic abuse charity, IDAS. We are delighted to add Hoping York Street Kitchen to the list of those we support.”