A FOOD wholesaler which rapidly reinvented itself as a home delivery grocer has been feeding people in need.

Harvest Fine Foods normally supplies trade customers such as restaurants, care homes, hospitals and schools, but most of its regular business disappeared overnight because of coronavirus.

Bosses rapidly devised a plan to send its vans out to individual customers in much of Hampshire, Dorset and Salisbury – and rapidly attracted thousands of customers.

The company supports charitable organisations such as Fareshare, which distributes food to good causes, and Westbourne Rotary in Bournemouth.

Since the end of March, it has also raised around £5,000 through donations for Fareshare to support coronavirus pop-up projects across the south.

Mandy Holdaway, warehouse manager at Fareshare in Southampton, said “This is truly amazing and means that a lot of our members are getting stock that they either can’t afford or are struggling to get hold of in these difficult times.”

Harvest managing director Richard Strongman was recently invited to meet Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes about a joint project with Crestwood Community School to supply around 700 free school meal packages while children have been unable to attend school.

Totton-based Harvest has also been providing the non-profit school meals provider Southampton City Catering with around 4,000 free school meal and elderly care packages.

The service supports 46 schools across Southampton and has been providing healthy packed lunches for those at school and grocery boxes for pupils at home who are eligible for free school meals. It has also seen a 75 per cent increase in its care meals service, delivering meals to vulnerable and elderly adults.

Jessica Clasby-Monk, from Southampton City Catering, said: “One crucial aspect of our school meals service is to provide for those children who would ordinarily enjoy a free school meal with us at lunch time. To be able to do this, we’ve been really grateful for the quick response and support from Harvest, to ensure that we can supply, per week, approximately 800 healthy and essential grocery boxes for families.

“Each week has presented different and individual needs for schools, so we’ve been working flexibly to ensure that we can provide communities with reliable, safe and healthy food. We couldn’t do it without the support of everyone at Harvest.”

Harvest has also supported New Forest District Council and Portsmouth City Council with care packages.