FAMILIES in Dorset struggling with food poverty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be supported with food parcels, thanks to BCP Council’s Together We Can scheme.

BCP Council have announced that they have received around £3million this week alone from central government to assist with Covid-19 increased costs, but have taken the decision to support local families independently.

Over the weekend, councillor officers have been working hard to provide a full programme of food parcels for the community which will be delivered to families across the conurbation.

Families can call the council's Together We Can team from Monday at 9am to arrange food parcel deliveries.

Extra staff are to be mobilised in order to distribute the council’s contributions of food and supplies.

BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellow said: “The government have made it clear that local councils are the ones who are best places to make sure that those families who find themselves struggling with food poverty during these tough times get help.

“We’ve received additional money of around £3m this week alone from government to help with our response to things such as this.

“We’ve therefore spent the last few days ensuring that our already established methods to help in this area, such as through our Together We Can programme, are ready to ensure that no child who needs extra food over the half term will go without.”

Many businesses, community fridges and foodbanks across the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch area have stepped up their efforts in support struggling families following the vote in the House of Commons this week on free school meals for children during the school holidays.

All 24 BCP public libraries are accepting food donations for local food banks, with Branksome and Rossmore libraries also hosting community fridges for residents to use.

Cllr Mellor added: “I’m pleased to confirm that this is all now firmly in place and we will continue to make sure that any child and family who needs help gets it.

“If you are entitled to free school meals or universal credit and struggling to pay for food over half term, we will be supporting the community response by making extra food parcels available.

“The together We Can website has details of how to contact us. It is open Monday to Friday.”

The council’s food parcels will be distributed through their Together We Can helpline, which will be open from 9am on Monday.

Those who are usually in recipe of free school meals have been advised to call the Together We Can team on 0300 123 7052 for support and advice.