OVER 10,000 meals were distributed in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area through the various community outlets during lockdown and afterwards and some of the groups are still in action.

Cowdenbeath Area Committee heard on Wednesday that so many volunteers rallied to the cause to ensure that people would not go hungry due to the coronavirus crisis.

Community Development Team Manager, Sharon Murphy, told councillors: "The response from the local community and staff, along with volunteers, has been incredible and it has been encouraging to see the communities coming together and supporting each other.

"Local community resilience groups took a lead in a number of areas either through new or existing groups such as Benarty Emergency Response Team (Bert), see page 16, Whispering Women, Crossgates Together, Lochgelly Against Coronavirus and the Kelty Lets' Get Together Group.

"Local community councils, community organisations and funders have also provided additional support.

"People in communities provided food donations and financial support to local food projects on a weekly basis and others have provided food and meals for friends and neighbours.

"Local businesses have provided their support with regular donations, supermarkets have provided backing along with weekly Fair Share deliveries to provide a range of essential food items for distribution across the area.

"Local volunteers have given up their time to work alongside staff teams at the various food projects with around 100 hours of volunteer time every week.

"Local council staff have stepped into new roles and worked flexibly, with caretakers, community use staff, welfare support workers, and community education and development workers playing roles in deliveries of food parcels, shopping, befriending calls, arranging food bank parcels, preparing meals, providing welfare support, all while adapting to working from home or working remotely.

"Additional funding was secured via Community Food to purchase additional fridges and freezers to increase storage capacity."

Ms Murphy outlined that the stats featured that the Lo'gelly Lunches team at Lochgelly Town Hall, between April and July through their Community Larder served 1,565 people; their Hot Hatch facility distributed 1,149 meals, and the number of packed lunches was 851.

Oor Wee Cafe in Kelty had 1,134 attendees between April and July; Max's Meals in Cowdenbeath distributed 1,048 meals; Cardenden Community Fridge served 793 people in the same period; and the Benarty Pantry provided for 1,979, and distributed 6,912 takeaway meals.

Convener of the committee, Councillor Linda Erskine, was very much involved with the Lo'gelly Lunches operation but she talked about the work of council staff who got involved in all of the bases: "The eagerness of our staff to help in any way they could was fantastic and the volunteers from each community were unbelievable."

Vice convener, Councillor Rosemary Liewald said: "The way that the volunteers rolled their sleeves up and did their street collections was remarkable and such was the fun way in which these were organised had people queueing up to put items on the trailers."

Councillor Darren Watt added: "The volunteers almost created something out of nothing which simply gathered momentum, but I fear this coranavirus crisis is going to be with us for a time yet."

Ballingry councillor, Lea McLelland was involved with the BERT and LACG groups and said: "I cannot commend our community staff enough for what they have been doing helping make these things work well and I must say that the volunteers who were part of BERT and Lochgelly Against Coronavirus were fantastic with their input into making our communities better places."

Bailey-Lee Robb was also part of the Lo'gelly Lunches volunteer team, and said: "The people who got involved really were superb and I felt the enthusiasm of the youth and community worker Lorraine Mullen was infectious.

"It was a fantastic piece of work by everyone involved in this operation."

Kelty and Cowdenbeath member, Councillor Alex Campbell, himself raised a large sum of money for the various groups through a sponsored cycle, and said: "I saw at first hand the work of the Hughes sisters in Kelty making sure that vulnerable people had a hot meal most days, but alas we have a lot of poverty in our communities and I fear that what has been taking place may be needed for some time yet."

Councillor Alistair Bain added: "The enthusiasm of the volunteers and their hard work has been simply brilliant."

The recommendation in front of the committee was that an allocation of £20,000 be put forward from the Anti Poverty Fund to assist the existing community food projects until March 2021 but Councillor Erskine said: "I feel, like has been said earlier, that we are facing something that is set to continue for some time so I would propose that this figure is increased to £50,000 to tackle what is going to happen."

This was unanimously agreed by the committee.