Food Poverty Relief
Before Covid-19 came to the UK, Bristol’s Masons had set up a collection ‘basket’ for donated foods, toiletries and other essentials in the foyer of Freemasons Hall. It was for The Matthew Tree Project (TMTP), a locally based charity supporting individuals and families in crisis and suffering food poverty. Donations rapidly increased, a volunteer ‘Mason-with-a-van’ volunteered to deliver the donated goods to the charity, and then volunteered to work for the charity!
In response to local food poverty relief work Bristol’s Masonic Benevolent Institution also granted financial support to TMTP, and to the Bristol Soup Run Trust, a charity supporting street people.
Then Covid-19 hit.
Freemasons Hall was closed; panic buying cleared shelves; those most in need sank deeper in their crises, and the number of people in crisis soared as everything locked down.
The BMBI granted additional funds to TMTP, Bristol Soup Run Trust, and ‘Humanitarian Bristol Covid 19’ - a new community support group combating food poverty.
Some Bristol lodges bought and delivered shopping-trolleys full of food to the MTPT.
The Masonic Province of Bristol joined financially with the Bristol Sport Foundation to provide food poverty relief, with a team of volunteer masons helping to assemble and pack food boxes and food packages for individual delivery from Ashton Gate Stadium.
Additionally, two small food banks were identified as needing special support.
As food donations began slowing down at an alarmingly fast rate, Bristol’s Masonic Charity Team launched ‘Sponsor A Pallet’ - a scheme for Lodges and individuals to fund pallets of mixed foods, as requested by the charities, to be delivered from the wholesalers direct to the charities – so far the scheme has funded 32 pallets.
With volunteer labour nearing 400 hours and more than £24,000 of financial support of from local and national Masonic funds, the Bristol Masonic effort to relieve food poverty is helping to provide over 16,000 meals a week to those so desperately in need.