The Trumpington Food Hub opened in the pavilion on Tuesday May 5 last year, supported by the City Council, the Trumpington Residents’ Association and Cambridge Sustainable Food, and this afternoon a group of the volunteers who have kept it going every week since will meet on the rec to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we have worked to look after each other during the last sixteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The way the community worked to support those in need, with mutual aid groups coordinated via WhatsApp, the trumpington.info website, and the Trumpington Volunteer Service all emerging to add to the work done by existing groups of all types and sizes, has been a real testament to our ability to care for and look after one another. Over the year we’ve seen prescriptions collected, pets walked, food delivered and all sorts of other support, especially for those who needed to shield during the most difficult periods as this awful disease spread.
Things are a bit easier now, with many of us fully-vaccinated and elements of day-to-day living restored, although we are clearly not through the pandemic and still need to be careful and responsible.
However, that won’t stop us having a lovely picnic today, taking as much care as we do every week when we welcome local residents to come and collect the food that has been provided by the Food Poverty Alliance or donated by local businesses and residents.
But whatever the success of the Food Hub – I estimate we’ve provided vital food for over seven thousand families throughout the year, many of whom have come each week because they are in need – we are not celebrating today, because the fact that Cambridge, one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has had to increase its provision of emergency food support is a tragedy. Nobody should have to queue outside Trumpington Pavilion to collect pasta or pet food or sanitary towels, and that they do demonstrates just how much our economy and political system are failing to meet the real needs of our communities.
I’m proud to be part of the group that came together to meet this need, and deeply impressed by the organisational skills of our organiser Jackie, who has worked tirelessly. I’m pleased that the City Council has funded us, and that we’ve managed to distribute food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
But I am angry that the austerity policies of the government, the destruction of the support systems people relied on, the failure to make the minimum wage truly liveable, the lack of any proper food policy, and the callous disregard for people shown in reform of the benefits system made it necessary for us to come together like this. Yes, we did it and we can take pride in the resilience of our community.
But why did we have to?