Edinburgh dad distributes 60,000 food packs to families in need and now plans 'pizza in the park' events

A dad who has provided more than 60,000 meals to families is gearing up to launch ‘pizza in the park’ events for communities in need.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 7:00 am

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When James Murphy led a Christmas toy drive that saw thousands of presents delivered to kids across the East of Scotland he felt he had to do more to help families who were struggling.

The dad-of-one started the Food for Families project in January and has provided more than 60,000 homemade meals, as well as thousands of nappies, toiletries, clothes and health care essentials to communities in the city.

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Mr Murphy runs uthink Food for Families programme

Mr Murphy, from Gilmerton, has set up mobile food banks in two schools and four nurseries with support from community groups.

The 32-year-old has worked tirelessly day and night making deliveries with his daughter Layla, 4 who loves to help out and says she is his apprentice.

A former learning support worker, Mr Murphy drummed up £5000 from national charity uthink to get food for families off the ground.

Now he has bought a van and is walking a marathon around the city on Friday 23 April to raise cash to help take the total meals supplied up to 100,000.

Once he hits the target he is determined to expand the project further. As lockdown restrictions ease, he plans to putt on ‘pizza in the park’ events starting in summer to help tackle stigma and isolation in communities hit hard by poverty.

And he plans to run arts and sports projects for young people in unused city spaces.

He said: “I did a big Christmas toy drive in places like Pilton, Granton, Wester Hailes, Niddrie and it has all grown from that. I knew from my daughter’s nursery that food banks had cripplingly low supplies. When they closed during the pandemic a lot of families who were referred to them had nowhere to turn. If they were sanctioned while on benefits, they could go up to ten days without money to get food. After we got toys and jumpers out to kids at Christmas school staff kept telling me how many were in a desperate situation. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about it.”

He said: "When people don’t have food in the cupboards, it has serious effect on families. If people lost jobs or on brink of it that puts pressure on families who have been living on top of one another and shut away for months. Things can spiral quickly.”

"We have been dishing out food non stop, it’s ten times busier now since set up in January. We supply ingredients and recipe cards, so that people can batch cook and make it all go further than just a meal. That helps a lot.”

“I know some families have been embarrassed or self-conscious about getting food parcels. So it will be nice to do a social event like pizza in the park. We’ve got big ovens and gazeebos. I hope to give families a chance to get a meal and have a bit of fun together.

“I grew up in Northfield and nobody ever came to the scheme. I want to do something that folk can look forward to, get communities together or just get them along for a free takeaway. We all need to look after each other in these times.”

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