Cumbernauld’s Cornerstone House was the venue for the launch of a brand new food co-op venture on Friday.
Like the House of Bread food bank run from the same busy town centre base, it will bring food to the growing number of people who - often because of benefit cuts or redundancy - cannot afford to pay shop prices to feed themselves and their families.
But unlike the food bank the goods at the twice-weekly co-op will operate as a shop. It will give customers the chance to choose from a range of donated goods sold at rock bottom prices.
A generous bag of groceries costs £4 – a bag of fresh fruit just 60p.
The twice-weekly co-op was officially launched by local MSP Jamie Hepburn, who said the food bank “reminds us of society’s failure to ensure we feed all our citizens.”
But he added that at the same time it showed the capacity of the community to rally round and help others.
The event – with plenty of tasty food on offer – was attended by well-wishers from churches and other organisations, and also local MP Gregg McClymont.
Cornerstone pastor Alan Welsh reminded guests how much has already been achieved since the food bank was launched in 2011 - bringing people struggling to survive not only food but also clothing and other basic necessities.
It all proved, he said, that “Cumbernauld has a heart”.
Prime mover Norma Cowan also spoke feelingly of the generosity of local churches and individuals, without which the scheme could not have survived and flourished.
Craighalbert Church, for example, runs its Friendship Cafe on Thursday, offering soup, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits - and, of course, plenty of friendship.
Church member Linda Campbell said: “Sometimes people still don’t realise how much the food bank is needed.
“One man walked all the way from Kilsyth bec ause he had nothing to eat.
“We helped a woman with four children who had literally nothing at Christmas, because her benefit had been capped.
“The need is definitely growing.”
Fellow helper John Dick said: “People often don’t realise they can help, because sometimes one tin can make a difference to a family - that is the reality.”
The Cumbernauld food bank handed out 1,400 food parcels last year, while Craighalbert dished up 2,800 rounds of soup and sandwiches.
Norma Cowan said: “God has blessed us over the last few years.
“We have had fantastic help from people including Sanctuary Housing, Asda and Step by Step Nursery.
“These people are making a difference.”