The Hereford City Rotary Club has received an overwhelmingly positive response to its latest initiative in supporting the community against the Coronavirus.

The club had already set up a Facebook information portal and a fund to assist charities and community groups.

And now, after being approached by Councillor Jim Kenyon about helping vulnerable people in the pandemic, the Rotarians have launched an emergency food parcel scheme.

“The club decided to focus on how best to support families with school-aged children,” said club president Katie Farmer.

“Many of these families were struggling financially even before the pandemic. Some parents were on zero-hours contracts, with many losing their jobs and having to claim benefits for the first time.

“This scheme will be delivered through schools to supplement the food vouchers being given to many families.”

Schools contact vulnerable families and explain that the City of Hereford Rotary Club is offering food parcels. If they wish to accept the offer, they reply to the school and a parcel is delivered to their home.

The content of the parcels has been agreed with the Public Health Team and is being sourced from a variety of wholesalers and local businesses.

“We are not asking for food donations, as we do not want to detract from the needs of the Hereford Food Bank UKUK,” said Katie Farmer.

The club is working with three local businesses. School Uniform Shop is co-ordinating the sourcing of the food with Cllr Jim Kenyon; Shack Events, who are providing a warehouse for storage and packing, and Hereford Pedicabs and Pedicargo are then helping Rotarians deliver the food parcels.

The first 96 parcels were delivered last week with 59 going to families from The Church of England Hereford Academy School while 37 were delivered by Vennture to the families that they support.

The system put in place worked well and there is now the capacity to deliver 200 parcels a week.

“The Hereford Academy was pleased to work with the Rotary Club to help support our wider community: as well as the donations we have already made during these challenging times,” said Academy headteacher Mike Stoppard.

“We recognise the challenges for some of our families during this time and the need for us all to pull together.

“The actions of the Hereford City Rotary Club reflect the core value of charity which is crucial during this period.”

One of the parents said: “Thank you so very much for my boxes; I’ve got tears in my eyes and a massive smile.”

“So far, the club has funding for 700 parcels but we know there are 1,000 vulnerable families in the city alone,” said Katie Farmer. “We are grateful to Level Peaks, Allpay, Alvara Foods, Hereford Community Foundation, Hereford City Council, Harrison Clarke Rickerby and Hereford Society for Aiding the Industrious for their generous donations.”