THE Forest Council has provided funding through Community Lunch Club Grants to help open 15 clubs in the district, benefiting over 350 residents and 100 volunteers.
The Lunch Club Grants funding was open for long term clubs looking for support to re-open after the pandemic, and for those looking to set up new clubs.
And Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Adrian Birch, said the council is keen to continue supporting local clubs long into the future.
“We understand that lunch clubs are incredibly important for many residents across the Forest of Dean, enabling people to socialise and enjoy nutritional food and other activities on offer", Cllr Birch said.
"At Forest of Dean District Council we want to ensure that the volunteers and people running the lunch clubs have the support they need to continue to provide such a fantastic service to the community and it’s great to hear how the Community Lunch Club Grants have already helped so many across the district.
"We’ll continue our work with local clubs, volunteers and residents and if anyone would like to know more about the support available in their area, please get in touch, or visit the Forest of Dean District Council website for more information.”
Ruardean Woodside Lunch Club, which has been running for many years, used funding from Forest of Dean District Council to purchase new equipment to transport food to the local village hall where the lunch club is situated.
With around 30 members this is a task requiring precision timing and the funding enabled volunteers to not only safely transport the food and keep it warm, but to also save on electricity costs as they didn’t need to reheat food in the way they had previously.
A spokesperson for the club said: “The insulated bags and Thermos flask have been such a big help to us. Before, the food just wasn’t staying warm enough when it was collected from the kitchens in Drybrook, and reheating the food in the village hall kitchen was time-consuming and meant we couldn’t serve all the meals at the same time - as the microwave capacity was limited!
“Thanks to the funding from Forest of Dean District Council, the serving of meals is much more stream-lined – and the food stays lovely and hot.”
Lunch clubs have also recognised the impact of the cost of living on their members, many of whom are elderly, and have used funding support to cut the cost of meals for their members.
‘Lunch at the Hall’ at Tibberton and Taynton Hall is one such example, with the reduction in charges helping those already involved and bringing in new members.
Funding has also been provided to volunteers from Forest Fighting Fit, helping the team to provide food to families attending their sessions and to the CANDI Lunch Club in Cinderford who opened at the start of June, providing spaces and food for people who need it most in towns and villages across the Forest.