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Pharmacy pledges to give money to food bank amid free school meals row

The pharmacy is also giving a 30% discount on essentials to families on benefits

An independent community pharmacy has pledged to give this week’s earnings to Coventry Foodbank to support families affected by the lack of free school meals over half-term.

Vantage Chemist, a family-owned pharmacy based in Coventry, announced the initiative on its Facebook page earlier this week (Monday 26).

“With the loss of free school meals support for this half-term week, especially in these most difficult of times, we at Vantage can’t let our local community suffer like this,” it wrote.

The pharmacy pledged to “donate the proceeds of our takings this week to Coventry Foodbank” and to offer a 30% discount on essential items “such as children’s medication, cold and flu remedies and toiletries to any family that claims #freeschoolmeals with income support or universal credits”.

The pharmacy has also launched crowdfunding for Coventry Foodbank on Facebook.

£1,000 by end of week

As of yesterday (October 27),  Vantage Chemist had raised £240 through crowdfunding on Facebook, but owner and superintendent pharmacist Gurbaksh Singh told C+D  that, with the addition of the pharmacy’s proceeds, he hopes to have raised £1,000 for the food bank by the end of the week.

“Our local community is in an impoverished area, so if we can help children thrive, it will help [improve] things in the future,” Mr Singh said. He explained that the initiative was launched after Conservative MPs last week (October 21) defeated Labour’s proposal to extend free school meals during school holidays until Easter 2021 in a vote in parliament.

“The community is the main part of our role; we [want to help] the local population here. In a modern world, I think some people forget that we’re here to look after our community,” Mr Singh added. He spoke about his initiative with local GP surgeries, who he said were “all very excited about it”.

Mr Singh also raised awareness of it with the Coventry local pharmaceutical committee (LPC), which shared the pharmacy’s post on its Facebook page.

Commenting on Mr Singh’s initiative, Coventry, Warwickshire and Herefordshire, and Worcestershire LPCs CEO Fiona Lowe told C+D yesterday that: “Vantage Chemist has gone the extra mile to support local communities with donations for the food bank.”

The organisation is proud of community pharmacies in Coventry, who have “all worked so hard throughout COVID-19 and continue to do so”, she added.

Have you started similar initiatives in support of your local community?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Whilst I applaud the generosity, I can see the Health Minister seeing this as evidence of excess profit in pharmacy and will cut funding..... again! What's the saying?..... "No good deed goes unpunished!"

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I'm glad they can afford to give their profits away. Most pharmacies are struggling for survival and need every penny. We certainly do.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

This pharmacy must be milking the NHS dry, the cuts to pharmacy funding was clearly exaggerated!!

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Child benefit comes out of our pockets - what is it used for? Booze and fags for the parents. 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

You're worried about child benefit when the government has been giving away literally billions to their mates in back room uncontested contracts.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

And wait for the thumbs downs.....

However, I see where you are coming from. Free school meals have always been for term time for people on benefits - covid hasn't stopped benefit payments, therefore parents should be able to get the lunches in holidays same as normal.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I agree with your statement. Out of curiosity what will you be doing when you leave pharmacy??

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Just tidying up a few loose ends of locum work then I'm starting myself up in garden maintenance. It's sort of turning a hobby into a job and I'm targeting the grey pound!

I'll probably still dip into here though, just to keep having my five penn'orth

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Wishing you all the best.

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