The rise of the food bank heroes and how to become one
Food banks are struggling right now, but the acts of kindness shine bright
All around the world, our supermarket shelves are empty amid the Coronavirus outbreak and food banks that depend on donations are struggling to stay afloat, with some already forced to shut down.
A worrying state of affairs for people who rely on food banks to eat – and there are many. Last year, the Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest network of food banks, delivered 1.6 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis — an 18.8% increase on the previous year.
There are 2,000 food banks across the UK alone — more than there are branches of McDonald's — with the Trussell Trust accounting for about 1,200. A North Paddington food bank in London, which provides food to more than 100 households each week, say donations are down 25%.
During these strange times, however, we have seen some heroic acts of kindness towards food banks the world over, and we at FoodTribe want spread the word on those busy helping, and tell you how you can help through donations or voluntary work.
We reported last week how Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated $1 million to food banks in North America. "Covid-19 has brutally impacted older adults and low income families," Reynolds told Twitter. "Blake and I are donating $1 million to be split between FEEDING AMERICA and FOOD BANKS CANADA. If you can give, these orgs need our help."
Big companies from McDonald's to Man City Football Club and Co-op are donating food and large donations to food banks around the UK.
Steve Murrell, group CEO of Co-op UK took to Twitter to announce how his company would help. He wrote: "We absolutely have to fill up food banks and not just our own fridges. That’s why we’ve donated £1.5m of food to FareShare which is stocking food banks up and down the country. #ItsWhatWeDo".
Meanwhile Manchester City and Manchester United have donated a combined £100,000 to help food banks in Greater Manchester meet increased demand from vulnerable people as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
How can you best support your local food bank?
If you are not in an at-risk group and have time on your hands, volunteer. More than 30% of the trust’s project managers are 65 or older, which makes them more vulnerable to Coronavirus.
“We are definitely in need of additional volunteers,” says Emma Revie, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive. “One of our biggest threats is people becoming unwell and unable to volunteer.”
“It is possible that food banks will face increased demand as people lose income, at the same time as food donations drop or staff and volunteers are unavailable, due to measures rightly put in place to slow the spread of infection,” she continues. “All of this comes when food banks are already dealing with a record level of need for emergency food."
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, food banks faced a difficult decision about whether they are able to stay open.
The latest government advice explains food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks can continue to open for those sessions, provided social distancing rules are followed, because volunteers qualify as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’.
The Trussell Trust will remain open. For the full government guidance on volunteering during this difficult time, visit the Trussell Trust website here.
The Trussell Trust are currently looking for volunteer drivers to help collect donations and deliver pre-packaged emergency food parcels to people in crisis and warehouse helpers to sort donations coming in, and make up pre-packaged emergency food parcels ready for distribution.
They also need social media advocates to help raise awareness and be a voice for change in the community or donate by texting TRUSSELL plus the amount to 70085 eg. TRUSSELL 5. For more details on volunteering go to here.
Individual restaurants have been calling out to donate fresh stock they are no longer using to food banks. Family run Italian restaurant Donatello in Brighton posted on Twitter: "Call-out urgent! we have a lot of food to donate to people in need but cannot get through to any food banks nor charities today. Please, if anyone is a part of a foodbank please call us."
People all over the UK are getting involved to help food banks and the low income families they serve.
We at FoodTribe salute you! Now more than ever do they need more help. Let's do out bit!