Over 1,500 free hot meals were provided to those struggling with food poverty from December 2022 to April 2023, as part of an initiative by Pembrokeshire Care Society.
The project, which was funded by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Food Poverty Grant, was both a huge success and simultaneously highlighted the staggering problem within the county of families facing food poverty.
Although Pembrokeshire Care Society is primarily a homelessness charity, this project was aimed at anyone who was struggling with food poverty, and not just those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Two local businesses, Hasty Bite in Pembroke Dock and Adam’s Coffee House in Haverfordwest, worked with us to provide the free meals.
To claim a meal, those struggling with food poverty simply had to call up to a book a table on the day, or provide a voucher which was provided by our team to clients who are facing homelessness.
1,536 meals were served over the four months in total, with demand staying consistently high as the weeks went on.
Both cafes also provided free hot meals to the two VC Gallery sites within the county.
Barry John MBE, Founder of The VC Gallery, said: “The VC Gallery really appreciated the support from Pembrokeshire Care Society in getting fresh meals to lots of people who visit our charity on a day to day basis in both Haverfordwest Hub and Pennar VC school.
Veterans and the community had the opportunity to get great nutritious food to support the raising need due to the cost of living in our county. The VC thanks everyone involved in the support we had over this period.”
Carl Williams, owner of Hasty Bite, said: “It’s been wonderful to take part in this project and as someone who really gets involved in the community, it’s been sobering to see the amount of people who frequently go without a proper meal. I know that there’s a lot of struggles in the area but I never imagined it was this bad.
“To be able to provide meals for so many people and see what a difference it made in their lives is something that’s really stuck with me. I’ve also loved seeing how these people have come together and made new friends in the café, it shows the spirit that still remains in our community, and I hope they continue to get support like this in the future.”
Optional feedback forms were also provided with a meal and the feedback given further highlights how important free meals are to so many within Pembrokeshire.
“Thank you so much for the help and support.”
“Great idea, it’s really needed in this town.”
“Brilliant service, helps a lot of people and families.”
100% of those who filled in the form said that the free meal has had a positive impact on their physical and/or mental health, and that the meal was both nutritional and well-prepared.
68% also said that they wouldn’t have had a hot meal that day without the free one provided, with 100% agreeing that it’s important that free meals like this are provided in the community.
Michael Hooper, Managing Director of Pembrokeshire Care Society, is delighted with the amount of people we’ve been able to help.
He said about the project: “It’s great to hear that the project has been successful in providing meals to those in need.
“It’s unfortunate that the scale of food poverty in the county is so high, but it’s reassuring to know that there are organizations like ours and grants like the one provided by the Pembrokeshire County Council’s Food Poverty Grant that are working to address the issue.
“It’s heartening to hear that the project has not only provided meals but has also helped foster a sense of community among those who have benefited from it. It’s clear that the need for such initiatives is only increasing and it’s important for us to continue to support them in any way we can.
“I hope that the success of this project will inspire others to take similar actions in their own communities, and that we can work together to alleviate the problem of food poverty for those who need it most.”