With the support of more than 200 local volunteers and six partner organisations, Edinburgh's Scran Academy Meals Programme will today, (22-07-2020), reach a massive milestone in its essential response to the coronavirus pandemic. The charity will deliver its 100,000th free, healthy, direct to door, ready meal. This ‘pop up infrastructure’ developed in response to Covid-19 has fed as many as 3,350 of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people, daily since 20 March 2020 and the start of Covid-19 Lockdown; equating to 20,618 meal deliveries in just four months.
By uniting and caring about the vulnerable, Scran Academy, a small youth catering social enterprise based in Pilton, North Edinburgh, with three part-time staff members, under the leadership of John Loughton (inspirational Scottish entrepreneur, speaker, campaigner and winner of Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack in 2008), transformed itself into a highly-organised and efficient catering production line. The team responded from day one, by safely distributing meals to those in desperate need within their local community as the coronavirus crisis hit the Capital. On 20 March 2020 they made and distributed 330 meals to 110 residents of North Edinburgh. Today, more than four months later, 1500 meals will be delivered to at least 761 people citywide.
Ben MacPherson MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Migration; said: “With passion and purpose, Scran Academy has responded remarkably and commendably in this crisis, helping many vulnerable people in communities across our city. By scaling up rapidly, building partnerships effectively, and safely distributing thousands of meals, Scran Academy’s operation has got food to those shielding and self-isolating while strengthening community bonds and upskilling many young people along the way. I’m very grateful to John and his team for all that they’ve done to safely support so many of my constituents and others in Edinburgh at this challenging time.”
With no existing infrastructure John Loughton brought together an impressive coalition of partners including Fet Lor Youth Club, Pilton Equalities Project, Out of the Blue Leith, Prep Table Scotland [who have recently merged with Scran Academy], Edinburgh Academy, Fettes College and YMCA Scotland. They had to act fast, quickly transforming and building a sophisticated and highly efficient community meals operation. Despite a huge climate of fear and lockdown, the team persisted to forward plan and sustainably upscale the operation effectively as the referrals for meals support flooded in.
This successful and vital community operation would not have been possible without the essential support from over 200 local volunteers (35% of whom have been young people), who have given more than 23,000 hours of their time, working in kitchens, warehouses, on deliveries and supporting with back office roles.
Scran Academy received requests for meal support from 103 different agencies working across the city. Poor Health, homelessness and financial challenge were the most frequent reasons for referral in the beginning.
Scran Academy’s own research now shows that the main barrier for those requiring meals is money, with 66% having financial challenges. 36% are aged over 70, 39% have an underlying health condition, 23% are in temporary accommodation or are homeless, and 11% have had an immediate and urgent need for food.
John Loughton, founder of Scran Academy and head of the Scran Academy Meals Programme community-led coalition, said: “I know what it’s like first had to go hungry and have empty cupboards. So many are struggling and alone in our ‘wealthy’ city, and we are on their side. As bigger organisations, and governments struggled to respond, we were out there delivering essential aid – that's the power of local agencies. But it wasn't just food, we were delivering, a portion of love and community, tackling isolation, showing pensioners we cared, helping single families get through and overcoming the tsunami of stress and fear. This was all made possible by the hundreds of donors, volunteers and partner organisations who made this happen. This shows that small acts uniting can create big changes to people’s lives.”
Over the last four months the Scran Academy Meals Programme has had donations, services and help from over 50 different companies and organisations. However, the second largest source of income has been through a crowdfunding campaign with more than 700 individual donations from the public totalling over £50,000.