Refugees and asylum-seekers from the Middle East, who are now living in Newport, Wales, are getting a taste of home thanks to supplies donated to a local food bank by Harlech Foodservice.
Olive oil, tortilla-style wraps and chickpeas are going into up to 30 food parcels a week, put together by the Feed Newport CIC food bank in the city.
The products were among a major consignment dropped off by Harlech Foodservice, which supplies businesses, schools and care homes across Wales. The delivery also included pallets of corn flakes and porridge, ketchup, rice pudding, muffin and pastry mixes, fruit juice, as well as a host of other items, such as almond and banana milk, marmalade, mayonnaise and hot dogs.
Gemma Walker, manager of Feed Newport, said: “We are so grateful. I had the phone call from Harlech saying they’d like to donate and then the lorry turned up and I thought ‘Oh, wow!’ It was just wonderful to get that amount and to think they’d driven for three to four hours to bring that to us.
“The smile on my face was just so big because I knew how many people that could feed.” Among the recipients are up to 30 refugees and asylum seekers. Walker said: “Refugees only get £35 a week. They’re not allowed to work and many of them have large families so that doesn’t go very far.”
She added: “We are the only food bank I know of that provides Halal foods as well as chickpeas, pulses and spices in food parcels.”
The Harlech Foodservice delivery list also took in food banks across south-east Wales at Ebbw Vale in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Aberbargoed in the Rhymney Valley, Barry and Pontypridd. More donations are planned for the area in the coming weeks.
The deliveries are organised by Ceri Brown, Harlech Foodservice’s digital project manager, who said: “We have often donated to food banks but with the pandemic the need is so great and we wanted to do more to help.
“Overall we have up to 10 delivery vans going out several times a week to food banks across Wales and the border counties. There are a lot of people out there facing really tough times and we’re just doing our bit to help them.”
Harlech Foodservice’s managing director David Cattrall added: “We see ourselves as an all-Wales business. We want to supply businesses across the whole country and the same goes for food banks in these difficult times.
“Clearly, because of lockdown, we are not supplying the amount we would normally to our customers in the health, care and education sectors or to restaurants and pubs, so that has left us with £250,000 of surplus food. In the circumstances the best thing we can do with that surplus is to direct it to food banks across Wales, and as long as we have a surplus then we will continue to do that.”