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RESIDENTS struggling to afford food and essentials due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis will continue to be given vital help.

East Sussex County Council has developed a range of support for those worst hit by the effects of the global pandemic.

It has received just under £600,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The county council will offer financial support to the county’s foodbanks and organisations working with foodbank users. 

Funding will also be made available for fuel vouchers via Citizens Advice.

The council also plans to to support new and emerging food partnerships to address longer term needs, with additional funding from Public Health COVID-19 recovery projects.

Cllr Carl Maynard, lead member for adult social care, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge impact on every element of life in the county.

“We know there is a growing number of individuals and families that have been so badly hit by the fallout of the pandemic that they are struggling to afford the basics.

“Feedback from foodbanks in East Sussex shows an increase of 168 per cent in the number of food parcels being provided in recent weeks compared to the same period last year, which really highlights the extent of the challenges being faced by many.

“The funding from Defra will enable us to continue offering vital support to those in the greatest need, as well as putting in place measures to address future need in the county.”

During lockdown, East Sussex County Council delivered more than 9,000 food boxes to vulnerable residents.

As a result, some of the funding will be reserved to support future food box deliveries, should they be needed. If unspent, the money will be redistributed to foodbanks.

Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of the council, added: “The funding will help us address the immediate needs of residents, but it is important that we consider the needs of the county in the future given potential job losses and the continuing financial uncertainty.

“Our investment in food partnerships will help to ensure that we are more resilient in the event of a similar situation to the coronavirus outbreak in the future, with East Sussex residents having better access to sufficient, affordable, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

More information about support available for residents can be found at: www.eastsussex.gov.uk/communityhub