A COMMUNITY group which provides food to people in need has been praised by Renfrewshire North and West MSP Natalie Don.

Nearly 40,000 deliveries of essential provisions have been made by EBI Unites to local families since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the large-scale volunteering effort has evolved into a community pantry and wellbeing centre based in the Church of the Nazarene in Erskine.

Ms Don recently visited the group, where she was informed by organiser Jacqui Reid about the impactful contributions of partners including Community Action for Erskine, Bishopton Community Development Trust, Inchinnan Community Development Trust, Catholic Erskine, Church of the Nazarene and Barnhill Farm, along with funding from Bridgewater Housing Association, in delivering services building the resilience of families in Erskine, Bishopton and Inchinnan.

Using food from local suppliers and retailers which would have gone to landfill, customers can pop in to the community pantry between 9.30am to 2pm, Monday to Thursday. 

The service also provides one-off or scheduled food parcels to help tackle food insecurity affecting local residents and offers weekly deliveries of soup, a main meal and a pudding to people experiencing social isolation.

Ms Don told The Gazette: "It is ridiculous that in present day society people cannot afford to feed their families but it is heart-warming to know that inspirational and caring people like Jacqui and more than 60 other EBI Unites volunteers are doing everything they can to ensure no one in Erskine, Bishopton and Inchinnan needs to go without.

"The Community Pantry’s sustainability efforts and aims to reduce food waste by providing healthy, nutritious food at lower costs are very impressive and I appreciated the opportunity to hear about EBI Unites work to remove the stigma around accessing services like theirs which are supporting many local people."

Jacqui Reid, EBI Unites community pantry and wellbeing centre lead, said: "The pandemic has exacerbated the struggle for many families in Erskine, Bishopton and Inchinnan who were 'just managing' before, working low paid, zero-hour contact roles which were impacted heavily during the crisis months of the past year. 

"I was delighted to speak with Natalie Don MSP about how EBI Unites has created a network of local support for some of the most vulnerable members of society who now have a friendly face to chat with and they realise their community cares about them.

"Our Community Pantry enables people to choose healthy food based on their nutritional needs and taste, and is not determined by what little income they can spare for food after bills and debts. The majority of the food we supply would have previously been sent to landfill which is another positive outcome of our service."

For more information or to offer help with the Community Pantry and Wellbeing Centre project, visit www.ebi.scot or email EBIUnites@hotmail.com.