A SURVEY of all free-food providers in Norfolk has found that churches and Christians groups are feeding at least 7000 people every month.
The survey looked at all free or heavily subsidised food providers, from foodbanks to soup runs, and from messy churches to lunch clubs, to try to determine how much hospitality was provided for those in need by Christians in the community.
The research project Norfolk Feeds 5000 was set up by Network Norfolk, a website that seeks to build networks across the Christian community.
Keith Morris, a publisher from the website, said: “We wanted to try and establish on what sort of scale churches and Christian groups are providing free food, whether that is foodbanks, soup runs, community meals, or breakfast clubs, and the impact they are having.
“We had over 100 responses to our survey, but we are sure the real scale is even larger, as we have over 500 different groups on our network. This may be the case in other counties, but we have not seen any similar research.
“There is a lot offered in Norwich, but also in our towns, and on the coast, as well as in villages. In one village, for example, Newton Flotman, a monthly community lunch is offered to people, some of whom are bused in from care homes. The lunch is cooked by staff at the church primary school in the village.
“And the Salvation Army-organised soup run in Norwich, which is supported by dozens of churches and other Christian groups, feeds 40 people every single night of the year.
“We know Christians don’t have a monopoly on this kind of voluntary work, and other faith groups are similarly involved, but Christians are heavily involved in all these projects, and without them many of these meals just wouldn’t happen.
“Collectively, the Christian community has come up with dozens of innovative and inspirational projects to meet the basic needs of vulnerable and sometimes desperate people in our towns and villages, through the simple activity of sharing a free meal with them, or providing food for their families.”
Norfolk Feeds 5000 was supported by the diocese of Norwich, Christian Aid, and other groups. For more information about individual projects, visit http://norfolkfeeds5000.co.uk.