VCSE Alliance Coventry Critical issue 'Feeding those in need'

From unexpected bills, to redundancy, to waiting for benefits to arrive, sometimes people need a helping hand.

VCSE Coventry Fact-file 

  • 1 in 5 children in Coventry live in poverty
  • 31 food hubs/food banks
  • 24,450 emergency food parcels were given out 2022
  • Food banks give people 3 days emergency food so they can work toward solving their financial issue
  • Over 1,000 people/families are helped per week
  • 200 volunteers work in Coventry's food hubs / banks every week
  • 1000 volunteer hours

How do they work?

Food Hubs and Fare Share are social supermarkets providers. Fare Share collect surplus food from supermarkets; whereas food banks rely on donations whether money or food items.


Moat House Community Trust Social Supermarket focuses on the needs of their community. It was originally created to help with the Covid pandemic; they delivered food to vulnerable and isolated families.


  • Set in the heart of the Wood End, Henley Green and Manor Farm
  • An area characterised by young, new, and often transitioning communities
  • Among the most disadvantaged in Coventry

Responding to need 

  • With the increase in food prices as a result of the cost of living crisis they saw a flux of people coming to find food and shelter – to tackle the winter bills
  • As a result of this they set up a flourishing Food Hub

About Henley Grub Hub 

Henley Grub Hub is a social supermarket that provides a range of healthy fruit and vegetables alongside dried goods and meat and all for £5.00. They also have access to luxuries from supermarkets that are close to their sell by date, at low cost. This enables MHCT to buy essentials from local supermarkets.  They are also working with Fare Share which is a national network of charitable food re distributors, who take surplus good quality food from the food industry and distribute it to community organisations like Moat House Community Trust.

The word on the street 

On a Wednesday morning the centre was buzzing with people queuing up, as well as members of staff and volunteers, supporting people with their queries. And handing out food. People can be referred with a council voucher to get a food parcel. Over 150 people are seen at each session. Family Hub members join in the MHCT volunteers to help deal with any issues or concerns that people may have, from housing to education. The local councillor is available for council queries, alongside a warm space for a chat and a hot drink.

Suzanne, the manager in charge said “you see how desperate and hungry people are, people are really suffering. During the cold weather they were queuing so early in the morning, it was icy, and they were freezing, I had to tell them to go home, we weren’t ready”

A young woman from a local building society who had donated, was also there to see the operation in action and was lending a very practical hand.

The VCSE pulling together to provide public services 

  • During children’s school holidays MHCT provide Holiday and Food (HAF) activities in partnership with Coventry City Council and Sky Blues in the Community, these are great ways for the children to get active and save the cost of the meal from parents who are struggling to make ends meet.
  • During the week they hold “Tea and Talk" at Moat House Leisure Centre and Henley Green Community Centre to help people feel less isolated and build places for conversation and make new friends.
  • There is also a Silver Surfer club for those less tech savvy to learn about using the internet and get connected to the World Wide Web to find information, pay bills, and stay in contact with distant relatives.

The impact of Poverty

“We all deserve the dignity of staying warm, fed and protected from poverty,” said Polly Jones, head of Scotland for food bank charity the Trussell Trust. “For too long people have been going without because social security payments are not based on a real reflection of life’s costs and are being pushed deeper into hardship as a result.”

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Now what?

The money to deliver the Social Supermarket came from:

  • The National Lottery
  • Part funded from sales at the Social Supermarket, and from the MHCT revenue from rented properties.
  • It looks like given the ongoing cost of living expense that the social supermarket will be needed for the foreseeable future
  • How do we make this model more sustainable?
  • Should the VCSE be propping up a faulty system?
  • If the VCSE didn't exist - what would happen?

Further links 

 Trussell Trust Coventry Foodbank - The Trussell Trust

Coventry Foodbank - Helping Local People in Crisis

Fare Share FareShare | Fighting hunger, tackling food waste in the UK

For a full list of food banks and food hubs

Social Supermarkets, Food Hubs and Foodbanks – Coventry City Council

Food poverty in the UK: The causes, figures and solutions (

Damio. The numbers behind the stories | by Charlotte Rennie | Jun, 2023 | We are Citizens Advice

We visited 'lifeline' Coventry grub hub helping people struggling with cost of living crisis - CoventryLive (