STUDENTS at Bishop Auckland College are receiving free meals to support them and their families during the Covid-19 crisis.

Over the past month more than 600 frozen meals have been handed out at the college’s main Woodhouse Lane campus, helping 25 families.

Orders can be made using a simple online form via a weblink sent in a weekly text by the college, with meals collected on weekday lunchtimes from a distribution hub manned by college staff.

The college is one of a number of community hubs established to distribute food during the pandemic as part of The Auckland Project: Closed Doors, Open Hearts initiative.

Led by The Auckland Project regeneration charity, in partnership with South Durham Enterprise Agency and Health Express, the initiative currently produces around 500 frozen meals per day, to be distributed via hubs like Bishop Auckland College, to residents in Bishop Auckland, Shildon and the surrounding area.

Funding for the project came from County Durham Community Foundation, with extra support from local councillors and the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership and public donations to help purchase ingredients.

Liz Fisher, director of curatorial and engagement at The Auckland Project, said: “The Auckland Project is proud to be working in partnership with organisations like Bishop Auckland College to ensure food remains accessible to people during the coronavirus crisis.

“We are grateful for all of the support received so far, particularly to the staff and volunteers manning those community hubs.”

Dishes such as cottage pie, mince and dumplings, lasagne and desserts like carrot cake and lemon, chocolate and syrup sponge cakes are being made, with most ingredients coming from suppliers including DeliFresh and BidFood.

The project is also preparing emergency food parcels with items such as flour, milk, vegetables and tinned meat, to help people cook at home.

College principal and chief executive Natalie Davison-Terranova said: “We are very happy to support this excellent initiative which is helping so many families through the traumatic lockdown period, and I would like to thank all colleagues who have volunteered their time.

“The hundreds of meals we have distributed over the past month clearly demonstrate how much this help is needed.”

Bishop Auckland College students who wish to receive meals can contact co-ordinator David Brough at david.brough@bacoll.ac.uk or on 07826-890256.