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Hunger Close to Home in Broughton, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Food Project hands out around 2000 food parcels each month and has seen use more than double in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Broughton Street
Broughton Street

Broughton may look and feel like a relatively affluent area. But behind the scenes, a surprising number of people here struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table.

The Edinburgh Food Project (EFP is an independent charity established in 2012. Its 170 volunteers currently hand out 2,000 food parcels per month through seven outlets across the capital. One in three parcels goes to a child.

Closer than you think

The city-centre outlet is based at Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church on Bellevue Crescent, where around 20 volunteers distribute 200 parcels per month.

Food poverty is nothing new in the city centre – the charity has been working here for over a decade. And, sadly, things are getting worse.

EFP Director Bethany Biggar says the number of parcels distributed between January and October this year was over double that distributed in the whole of 2022.

Not enough money

The biggest problem today is, unsurprisingly, the cost-of-living crisis. “Everything is more expensive and there simply isn’t enough money to go round”, said Biggar.

Insufficiently paid jobs, minimum wages and zero-hour contracts play a part – with one in five food parcels going to someone in a ‘working household’. 

But Biggar is particularly scathing about the social-security system: “Not only are many people put on the wrong benefits, but the amount they receive is based on nothing – it’s a number plucked out of the air. It’s totally inadequate to meet their needs”.

As part of the Trussell Trust network, EFP is campaigning with others to ensure that benefits be made sufficient to cover the basic cost of food, fuel and clothes.

How Edinburgh Food Project works

Clients are referred to the EFP either by the charity’s own money advisers or by other professional services helping people in crisis – for example, social workers, housing officers and NHS staff. 

To those with such a referral, the organisation can provide emergency food supplies to cook or heat up, toiletries and cleaning products.

The aim, though, is to help people not only in their moments of most acute difficulty, but to tackle other underlying causes.

So, for anyone who already has a food-bank referral, EFP staff can also offer unlimited, free, specialist advice and support concerning housing, welfare rights, benefits, debt, budgeting, energy saving, grants, mental-health issues, employment, and help available from other support services. 

Appointments aren’t necessary for the advice service. Clients can just pop in when they come to the food bank on Mondays and Thursdays between 1–3pm.

Ways to help

If you’d like to help the work of the Edinburgh Food Project, there are several ways you can do so. 

  • Donations of food and other items can be left in local supermarkets. The nearest in this part of town are Sainsbury’s on Howe Street and Waitrose Comely Bank. Tesco on Broughton Road also accepts donations, from where they are forwarded to five food banks run by a separate charity which operates in Leith.
  • A list of useful items appears at the foot of the page, although seasonal items such as mince pies and advent calendars are also welcome at this time of year.
  • Gifts of money. Follow this link to find out how. 
  • Volunteering. Details of the kind of people the Broughton food-bank are looking for can be found here
  • Corporate support from local businesses.

Contact the Edinburgh Food Project

Tel. 0131 444 0030 |email

Community fo Food receiving a cheque for £3000

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