A CALL has gone out for allotment holders to donate surplus produce to help families in crisis this Christmas.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s allotments team has joined forces with the town’s Waverley Terrace Community Allotment and Hartlepool Foodbank to launch the Big Christmas Dinner Challenge.
They are calling on gardeners to “pledge some veg” so that boxes of produce can be put together and distributed via the foodbank, a registered charity.
The Mail backed the launch of the charity with our We Can Do It appeal to encourage readers to make donations.
Joanne Taylor, The council’s environmental projects officer, said: “We know that many local families are desperately struggling to make ends meet and more and more are being forced to turn to Hartlepool Foodbank for help.
“We have come up with this idea in conjunction with the Waverley Terrace Community Allotment and the foodbank to try to ensure that needy families have a better Christmas than might otherwise be the case.
“At this stage, we are just looking for expressions of interest from allotment holders who would be willing to pledge a donation of vegetables.
“A pledge is not binding but it will give us an indication of just how many boxes we can expect to be able to make up from donations.
“There are around 1,600 allotments in Hartlepool so if every gardener donated just one item we would be able to help the foodbank supply fresh vegetable boxes to lots of local families.”
Allotment holders are being asked to donate produce such as potatoes, onions, garlic, sprouts, parsnips, carrots, cabbage/kale, turnip/swede, winter squash and leeks.
Al Wales, project co-ordinator at Hartlepool Foodbank, said: “We are finding that more and more people are turning to the Foodbank for help. Sometimes families try to manage on their own until they literally have nothing left. The Big Christmas Dinner Challenge is a great way of coming together to support those in difficult situations this Christmas’
Statistics show that this year alone the foodbank has received 1913 referrals which is a total of 3562 people fed (1008 of whom are children).
Clive Hall, chairman of Hartlepool Foodbank, added: “I’d like to thank the council’s allotments team and everyone at Waverley Terrace Community Allotment for their support and I’m confident that allotment holders will rally round to make this initiative a success.”
The Waverley Terrace Community Allotment which offers opportunities to children and adults with physical and learning disabilities and mental health problems, is overseen by Darran Hutchinson from Hartlepool Council’s Child and Adult Services Department. He said: “We are delighted to be involved in such a worthwhile scheme which has the potential to ease the intense pressure that many families currently find themselves under.”
Allotment holders wishing to support the initiative can call the council’s allotments team on (01429) 523406.