This year has seen more demand on foodbank services as we face the coronavirus pandemic and its impact.

With job losses, illness, furlough and cuts to hours of work, families and individuals are experiencing incredible strains.

The Cumnock Chronicle is asking you to help, if you can, by filling the bag in next week’s paper with supplies and donating it to help someone in need.

Throughout the pandemic, East Ayrshire Council have worked to ensure that no single person or household has been deprived of essential food supplies.

Many people, through no fault of their own, have been unable to get out to the shops to buy their own provisions.

Over 5,000 residents, young and old, were shielding during lockdown. Many people are now having to self-isolate as the testing regime is taking effect in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, and others have suffered extreme financial hardship as a consequence of COVID-19.

Phenomenal partnership working has been at the very heart of the success of East Ayrshire’s community food provision. At the peak of the pandemic, over 30,000 meals per week were prepared and delivered to families across the area with East Ayrshire CVO, which operates Ayrshire East Foodbank, and community volunteers playing a key role in helping to ensure those who most need it have been able to access affordable and healthy food.

This support will continue throughout the festive period.

Cumnock Chronicle:

This year, for the first time, and in recognition of the continued hardship some families are facing during the pandemic, East Ayrshire Council (EAC) is sending a Christmas food box to every child who is entitled to free school meals.

The child-friendly food box, contains healthy produce from local suppliers, with contents the children can easily use to prepare their own snacks.

The boxes will also include a £20 East Ayrshire gift card, which can be redeemed at a number of local retailers across East Ayrshire, as well as Wellbeing z-cards signposting people to further supports that are available.

These will be delivered to families between December 21 and 22 - once again very willing volunteers from within the council and from local community groups are assisting with this.

Throughout the pandemic the council has been working with local volunteers to establish food larders in a number of local communities, including Cumnock, New Cumnock, Muirkirk, Auchinleck, Netherthird and Logan.

Arrangements are in place with FareShare, the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, to receive weekly supplies of excess food from other suppliers.

Over 1,100kg of food is delivered each week to EAC and this is distributed to 12 community larders, providing support to over 1,000 people each week.

Several larders will remain open over the festive period - please check EAC’s website for full details.

The CVO, who operate Ayrshire East Foodbank, also opened up additional premises in Cumnock and Kilmarnock to help families and individuals most in need of support. By supplementing food supplies donated by the council, the CVO ensures that the homeless are able to access provisions on a regular basis.

Fiona Fawdry, chief executive of the CVO, said: “We’re finding that people are using the foodbank who have never had any need before.

“The winter, November, December and January, are our busiest months traditionally.

“This year we expect to be even busier. The level of in work poverty will have been compounded by COVID.”

The Food for All, Food for Life partnership has been established to build on the excellent work that has already taken place. This inclusive initiative is being jointly lead by the CVO, EAC Catering Service and Vibrant Communities, with additional representation from NHS Ayrshire and Arran, EAC Education Services, Financial Inclusion Team and local third sector organisations, all working together to support communities and help tackle food inequality across East Ayrshire.

Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing and Communities said: “We are absolutely delighted to be supporting this foodbank appeal, as part of the wider community food provision in East Ayrshire and we are grateful for the support and assistance from our partners and our volunteers in helping to make this happen.

“Many families struggle with the expense of Christmas and this year the impact of COVID-19 has only made things worse for some, and the last thing we want is for anyone to go without food at this time of year.

“Foodbanks provide an essential service for those most in need, but foodbanks themselves also rely on donations in order to keep their service running.

“Our caring, kind and connected communities have done a fantastic job throughout this pandemic, supporting each other and helping those shielding and self-isolating, and we need to keep this kindness going over Christmas. We can all do our bit to help and all foodbank donations will be most welcome.”

Paul Fisher, editor of Ayrshire Weekly Press, said: “We are asking Chronicle readers to get involved and support our foodbank campaign.

“The bags in next week’s paper can be filled with non-perishable food and dropped off at your local collection point. Each and every bag filled means help for those in need and we are proud to be able to offer this scheme.”

Ayrshire East Foodbank is operating from Cumnock and Doon Valley Community Routes on an appointment system. To access foodbank provision or to make a donation please call 01563 550951 or send a message at

For full details on foodbanks, community larders and other support available over the Christmas period, please click here