An Inverness church that has been providing food for the homeless and vulnerable for years has more than trebled its output since lockdown.
Ness Bank Church’s scheme, Inverness Foodstuff, is now preparing 160 meals a day rather than its usual 45, and has increased its provision from three days a week to seven.
The church took the decision to install a commercial kitchen a decade ago and for the past five years has been running a number of services for the vulnerable, including a café.
But since the Covid-19 crisis, the café has had to close and the church has changed the way it operates by taking meals directly to some of its customers.
Reverend Fiona Smith said: “Many of the homeless are self-isolating in houses of multiple occupation (HMO) or temporary accommodation, and without people they can turn to for help.
“We’ll be doing this throughout the pandemic.”
The church is maintaining its food distribution point, with many clients incorporating their food collection visit into their daily exercise.
Supermarkets supply the food for the meals from their unsold stock.
Rev Smith said: “We never know what we’re going to get, so it’s like ready steady cook, but we have extraordinary innovative cooks in our midst.
“Sometimes we even have the help of volunteer professional chefs.
“Our kitchen is big enough for two to work and maintain social distancing.
“We have 90 volunteers, but many of them are over 70 or having to self-isolate.
“To maintain our new seven-day service, we’re issuing food on Saturdays to cover Sunday and Monday to give our volunteers a rest.
“I can’t praise our congregation enough for their phenomenal work.”
The church partners with the In This Together café on Church Street and with Acts of Kindness Inverness to share food and make sure everyone’s needs are met.
The Community Payback scheme is also assisting with deliveries.
With more demands on the service, Inverness Foodstuff is looking for funding to cover a new member of staff and increasing overheads.