11 October
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Council Executive agreed to provide a further £272,011 to the West Lothian Food Network (WLFN) to support households facing food insecurity up to March 2022.

This takes the total funding for WLFN to £1.2 million for years 2021/22 and 22/23, which has helped them provide over 1.8 million meals from May 2020 to July 2021. Over 80% of those accessing the network report they are financially at risk, on a low income and/or unemployed.

The network, which is co-ordinated by the West Lothian Food Bank, has also grown during this period from 26 to 39 community food providers, all based in local communities responding to local need.

Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: "I am delighted to provide additional funding to the West Lothian Food Network to carry on their vital work of supporting over 4,000 local families per week.

"Many household budgets are under huge pressures thanks to factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the end of furlough, the removal of the £20 Universal Credit Uplift and increased energy and food costs, so it's vital this service remains in place through the busy winter period.

"Both the council and all members of WLFN share the firm belief that no-one in West Lothian needs go hungry. 

"It's been a hugely successful partnership with all the organisations involved, and we are looking at ways to make this sustainable going forward, with early discussions with the National Lottery."

As well as providing cooked food delivered to homes, food parcels, local pantries to go and collect food, WLFN members also provide toiletries, cleaning products, baby food and pet food.

They also help reduce food waste, distributing 282 tonnes of food across West Lothian including 105 tonnes of food donated for free. Work is underway to research the local food companies in West Lothian to discuss taking their surplus stock to save them money for disposing of these food items which, in turn, will be reused for the local community.

WLFN is also supporting the local economy and the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, placing orders with local companies to maximise the amount of money that can be spent with West Lothian businesses and sourcing Afro-Caribbean foods locally.

The council's Property Services have helped West Lothian Food Bank move to new, larger premises in Whitehill Industrial Estate, Bathgate, to ensure they are able to deliver an increased service.