Andover Foodbank has teamed up with the local market to allow disadvantaged families to get access to fresh produce.

Families can now use vouchers from the charity to pick fresh fruit, vegetables and bread from the market and use them to complement their meals at home. Fresh produce such as that from the market is something the foodbank cannot currently store.

The foodbank is using money provided by local and national government to fund the scheme, and is said to already be proving popular.

One man who used the vouchers said it had made a real difference, saying: “Having the bread and vegetables made the food in the box go so much further and the kids loved having the fresh fruit”.

Foodbanks across the country have been under pressure throughout the pandemic, and Andover’s is no different. It saw a 30 per cent rise in demand, and supplied food to over 2000 children. The charity expects that the demand will continue throughout 2021.

As part of support for foodbanks, the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs made money available through its emergency food fund. This is administered locally by Test Valley Borough Council, who awarded funding to Andover Foodbank. Money from this funding is now being used to fund the market voucher scheme.

Jenny Lelean, from Andover Foodbank, said: “One of the issues for our clients who receive food boxes is the lack of fresh fruit, vegetables and bread. These are products for which we haven’t the facilities to store. Our new partnership with the market not only gives clients access to these items, but also gives them some choice in what they buy.

“This helps not only in being able to purchase things that are liked by their families but can be really important when other aspects of life seem out of control. Most people who need the foodbank only access it for a short time but some require help for longer. This additional provision will make such a difference to their health and wellbeing.”

The manager of Andover market, Tony Clowes, said he was “pleased” to work with the foodbank, and that they try to help those using the service with their choices.

He said: “We are pleased to work with Andover foodbank in this way and to help their clients get the best value for their vouchers. We can even suggest meals they can make with the foodstuffs they choose, combining with dried and tinned items already in their foodbank package.”

To contribute to the foodbank’s ongoing work, please click here.