Cornwall's first ever 'food club' opens to provide low-cost food to those in need

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The first ‘food club’ in Cornwall has opened and hopes to provide a sustainable supply of low-cost food to vulnerable people in the area.

The Lighthouse Community Centre, in Liskeard, was running a food bank with the help of government money available during the pandemic – but that funding has come to an end.

The centre will still remain open every Tuesday and Thursday thanks to Claire Bevan, the CEO who began the project on her kitchen table.

She explained how the new model of the food club works and said: "So you have to pay £4 per year membership and with that, you’ll be able to have a food parcel that would cost £3.50.

The rules at the Lighthouse Community Centre about which items can go into a member's food box Credit: ITV West Country

"They’d be able to pick two items off the blue shelf, four items off the yellow, eight off the green, and then usually a lot of fruit and veg.

"We shouldn’t have to do this but to be able to do it is fantastic."

The shop is fully operational selling discounted supplies - some of the stock on these shelves is donated but lots of it is surplus from local supermarkets.

Sandra Mitchell, who works at the centre, says the people who visit take away more than just food.

She said: "People can come in and take their time. They can sit, chat and have a coffee and that communication with somebody.

"You might be the only person they’ve seen that day. They could’ve been sat home all week worrying about their money problems but then can come in and just have that company.

Sandra believes centre members benefit from having people to talk to at the club as well as picking up their food parcels Credit: ITV West Country

"That lift from talking to somebody else is important."

The use of food banks in the South West reached record levels during the pandemic and staff here are expecting demand to remain high.

The food club is the first of its kind in the county and the Mayor of Liskeard, Councillor Simon Cassidy, believes that says a lot about the town's community spirit.

He said: "I’m really proud of the people of Liskeard.

"We have an amazing community spirit here and lots of people during the pandemic came together to support our community.

"Thankfully as we come out of the pandemic, they’re still here working together for the betterment of our community.

"There are a number of people who struggle and will continue to struggle going forward unless something is done nationally to address this problem."