A CAMPAIGN group has called on the council to devise a long-term strategy to tackle food poverty once the pandemic is over.

Louise Hunter, of Inverclyde Community Action Response Group, which has been co-ordinating a huge meals on wheels delivery effort for people in need, believes hunger is becoming more acute in the area despite the existence of a whole host of welfare charities, extended free school meals schemes, breakfast clubs and organisations like the foodbank.

She says that the coronavirus outbreak simply made the existing problem worse and highlighted it.

Louise says a plan for the future is needed to address the problem properly.

Louise said: "We’re going to be delivering meals for some time to come even though lockdown is easing.

"Food poverty is becoming more and more challenging.

"We would welcome a council led long-term strategy to help those who will continue to need support.

"Clearly it has been exacerbated by Covid-19 but the issue has been prevalent for a long time. "

Local authority bosses say they have spent half a million pounds during the pandemic to support vulnerable families and will continue to do so.

An Inverclyde Council spokesperson said: “The council is acutely aware of the issue of food poverty and the anticipated increase in demand for support post-lockdown as the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic start to impact on families across Inverclyde.

“This is being factored into the council’s wider recovery planning.

“During lockdown, the council has spent over half a million pounds supporting pupils, families and vulnerable people with food.

“Free school meals provision, currently £25 a fortnight paid direct to families of pupils, will continue during the summer holidays and until 28 August, which is after the schools go back and more than Scottish Government requirements.

"This is expected to cost in the region of £350,000.

“During the pandemic so far, the council has worked with many local groups, such as Barnardo’s, Belville Community Gardens, Branchton Community Centre, Compassionate Inverclyde, Home-Start, Inverclyde Community Development Trust, Inverclyde Homeless Centre, Inverkip Hub, the i58 Project, which runs Inverclyde Foodbank, and Parklea Branching Out, to provide support, including with sourcing and sorting several tonnes of food into emergency parcels for onward distribution to those in need throughout our communities.

"This has allowed for the production of prepared meals and food parcels and will continue.

“The council will also continue to distribute food, made available through a £1.6 million grant from the Scottish food fund, to groups to help support people across Inverclyde who need it the most.”