The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By TAZ USHER tusher@wok­ing­ham­pa­

THE GRUB Club has helped hun­dreds of house­holds through the pan­demic — and now they need help find­ing a new home.

The Nor­reys-based food hub, which launched last sum­mer to help fam­i­lies en­ti­tled to free schoolmeal­s, ex­tended its sup­port to any­one hit badly by the cri­sis.

Op­er­at­ing out of Nor­reys Church, the club has dis­trib­uted more than 1,250 food parcels to res­i­dents over the past 16weeks us­ing do­na­tions from Read­ing whole­saler Brakes, Wok­ing­ham’s COOK, as well as su­per­mar­kets Lidl, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, and Mor­risons.

And it has been a team ef­fort thanks to help from the Wok­ing­ham Food­bank and the Com­mu­nity Hub.

Mem­ber and Grub Club co-or­di­na­tor, Claire Re­vie said: “The club has taken on a whole new mis­sion over th­ese last few­months.

“The ser­vice we’ve been of­fer­ing is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to our orig­i­nal sum­mer club but we wanted to keep the same name as both ser­vices share the same ob­jec­tive- to help peo­ple when they need it most.

“We have hugely ben­e­fited fromthe use of the church as it al­lows our reg­u­lar hub users to visit us eas­ily and places us in the heart of the com­mu­nity we are help­ing.

“Al­though some areas of life are re­turn­ing to nor­mal, there are still a lot of peo­ple who are still fur­loughed or have been made re­dun­dant and will still need our help.

“We­want to keep the club go­ing as long as we can.”

As Gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions on so­cial dis­tanc­ing ease, church mem­bers are plan­ning their re­turn to worship.

And this means the Grub Club will need to re­lo­cate if it is to con­tinue help­ing fam­i­lies in Wok­ing­ham.

Ms Re­vie said: “We’re open to any sug­ges­tions at the mo­ment. Our sum­mer project starts at the end of this month so we need to find a new venue by then.

“Ide­ally, we’d love to stay lo­cated in Nor­reys so we are close to the peo­ple we cur­rently help.

“A kitchen area is a bonus as we need to keep some of the food sup­plies re­frig­er­ated and frozen.

“A cen­tral lo­ca­tion would be amaz­ing. If we could have a build­ing large enough to share with the Food­bank and other groups with the same ethos it could be­come a lit­tle sup­port hub of its own.”

The vol­un­teer added: “Un­for­tu­nately we don’t have a bud­get to spend but we can look into grants to cover costs if needed.”

One res­i­dent who has ben­e­fited from the club dur­ing the pan­demic said: “The team at the food hub have been amaz­ing.

“Be­tween my hus­band be­ing fur­loughed, and a loss of my self-em­ployed in­come, and try­ing to shield two asth­mat­ics as much as pos­si­ble, the Grub Club has meant we have eaten bet­ter than in many weeks be­fore Covid-19.

“No judg­ments or pity, just great food, when we were un­sure how long our money would last or where some of the next meals might come from. A heart­felt thanks.”

And as well as feed­ing fam­i­lies, the club gives res­i­dents the chance to re­duce food waste on a lo­cal level.

Claire said: “We are aware that food waste has in­creased over the lock­down pe­riod and there are high penal­ties for coun­cils, food sup­pli­ers and stores if they don’t meet their waste tar­gets.

“It would be great if, as a town we could tackle this to­gether and ad­dress the hunger is­sue as well as that con­cern­ing food waste.

“One day we’d love to trans­form the Grub Club into a long-term food mar­ket­styled venue with a zero waste as­pect to it. The two con­cepts would go re­ally well to­gether.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, to vol­un­teer for the Club, or sug­gest a new venue con­tact Claire Re­vie at cjm­re­

Pic­ture: Claire Re­vie

The Grub Club in ac­tion at Nor­reys Church

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