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Food Buddies: Thinking Outside the Box During Lockdown

Posted September 2nd 2020 by Ruth

Nobody could have predicted what would happen in March 2020. The best-laid plans of everyone fell by the wayside. It was a matter of going back to basic survival strategies – a key one being how to get food.

Our Food Buddies project was at the stage of drawing to a close, having fledged a few successful self-sustaining offshoots including the intergenerational Garden Buddies. We were on the point of organising some mini-celebrations to bring the current project to a close and we were also looking at ways of evolving into new partnerships, including providing training for healthcare and catering professionals and volunteers.  These plans were put on hold as everyone was occupied with dealing with the emergency. We were also unable to meet up with our usual groups, many of whom were older, more vulnerable people.

Instead we got involved with local emergency groups which were coordinating community volunteers to deliver food and other essentials to those who could not get to shops. We supported these groups to get a small amount of funding to cover things like printing costs and emergency phone lines.

In the South East we focused on supporting groups in Peebles and Penicuik, this being where our staff lived, but we also shared good practice and fed back our experiences via our networks, funders and at national level.

We also done lots of writing during this time producing resources to support people who were supporting an older friend or neighbour with food: Including:
Food Tips Postcards 
Tips for you and your friendly neighbours for times when you can’t get out
A Shopping Checklist for Volunteers 
Shopping volunteer checklist

We also produced our first regional Newsletter, available here.

Food seemed to become a prime positive focus for many during Lockdown, with recipe sharing and hints on where to buy ingredients being a theme connecting many communities. We supported the newly formed Tweed Valley Cooks to apply for and obtain a small grant to cover the costs of producing a booklet of all the great recipes they had shared during Lockdown. The booklet, soon to be launched, will be sold at a modest price, via website and in local outlets. The money made from the sale will go to Borders Women’s Aid. Follow their Facebook group for further details and to share delicious recipes.


In Falkirk we secured funding from the Investing in Communities Scottish Government grant to deliver the new Falkirk Food Connections project. This project is an evolution of our Falkirk Food Buddies project. Through this project we want to use food as a tool to bring people together and chat, meet new friends, feel less lonely in the disadvantaged communities of the Falkirk area by providing peer support around food activities, building stronger links between organisations and the communities they serve and by providing opportunities for people with direct experience of food poverty and carers to contribute, feel valued and listened to and to share their skills and knowledge. During lockdown they have been having Facebook Live cooking session and sharing ideas and recipes to reduce food waste. More information about Falkirk Food Connection can be found here.

Finally, we have been proud to be supporting a true Lockdown success story, LINKS Eyemouth. LINKS started as a way of connecting families in Eyemouth through healthy eating activities; suddenly they had to go ‘virtual’. Instead of meeting up they started sending out recipe packs – it began with a handful of families and there are now around 60 families receiving a regular pack of healthy ingredients. The recipes and photos are shared in their closed Facebook group and families stay connected with positive peer support, sharing hints and tips and photos of happy children preparing tasty food. Outside the Box have supported the coordination and promotion remotely, as well as obtaining continuation funding for the project. You can read a blog about LINKS Eyemouth here.


For more information about Food Buddies contact


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  • Posted by Scottish Children's Lottery funding for Eyemouth LINKS - Outside The Box on September 7th 2020
    […] During lockdown Eyemouth LINKS delivered 375 healthy ingredient bags, supporting families to cook at home and share meals virtually. Now the project will be able to continue thanks to £8441 from Chance to Flourish. Eyemouth LINKS has shown how much appetite exists for local community-driven solutions to shared challenges. Their work has been addressing loneliness, unequal access to food, and new barriers many families have faced in connecting with each other during lockdown. The LINKS Lockdown meal ingredient bags were delivered to 75 families during COVID-19 restrictions, with 161 children benefiting from them. LINKS (Linking Ideas for Nutrition Knowledge and Support) Eyemouth does what it says on the tin. It links up families in Eyemouth, through social events centred around good food on a budget. There has been great local engagement with the project – the food bags reached more people week on week, and families took part in online dinners across households. There has also been a buzz of online activity, with 1851 comments and 4492 reactions in the LINKS Facebook group. Families have been supporting one another digitally through the lockdown, brought together by the importance of making sure everyone in the community has the access they need to healthy food. The new funding will make a huge difference to the project’s 226 members – and the 5 enthusiastic LINKS volunteers! […]

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