Nobody should go hungry tonight
Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. FoodBanks provide food to people in crisis because they know a simple box of food can help prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems.
The banks collect non-perishable, in-date food, toiletries and household goods from schools, churches and individuals. A team of over 40,000 volunteers then sort the food to check it is in date and pack it into boxes ready to give to people in need.
The FoodBanks partner with care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and the police to identify people in crisis and issue them with a voucher. Clients bring this voucher to their local FoodBank centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. The volunteers also meet with these clients over a warm drink or free hot meal and can signpost them to agencies who can assist with any longer-term needs.
The Farnborough Foodbank was set-up in 2009, originally in someone’s garden shed, progressing to a garage, then expanding to five garages before Rushmoor Borough Council provided them with a store unit. Last year (April ’18 – March ’19) Farnborough FoodBank supplied 4047 three-day emergency food boxes to people in crisis.
We decided we also wanted to do our bit to give back to the community we work in and on 18th September we hosted the first of what will hopefully be many, FoodBank Drive. We knew our team would be generous and we could get a good collection going in the office, however we wanted to do more. Luckily our office is on a sizeable business park in Farnborough with approximately 30 different companies, so we enlisted their help to gather as many supplies as possible.
We communicated our plan and proposed collection date to the business park to encourage people to get involved. We weren’t sure how many would get involved, however as the date drew near we were hearing that other companies on the site were organising their own internal collections to donate on the day, and the excitement began to mount.
On the Monday the FoodBank delivered us two collection bins to fill and we were delighted that before leaving our office one was already full. On the day the donations came streaming in, and we filled the two bins along with two more boxes of food, toiletries, cleaning products and baby goods and people were making cash donations alongside.
The Foodbank counts provisions on a weight measurement system and ordinarily hopes to hold between eight and nine tonnes at a time, however currently Farnborough is operating on only six.
This reduction is an expression of the increased demand on the FoodBank’s assistance, alongside a seasonal reduction in donated food. The peak times for donation are surrounding the Harvest Festival and Christmas, often the provisions they receive during these periods see them through most of the year, the slowest time for donations also coincides with often their busiest time of year – the summer holidays. On the date of our drive we collected over 146kg of provisions (the equivalent of 234 guinea pigs).
To quote Colin from the Farnborough FoodBank “Each and everyone, regardless of status, can find themselves in a position of immediate food poverty. Often folk are just a payday or benefit payment away from this, through no fault of their own! Our ethos: nobody should go hungry tonight”
One in five of the UK population live below the poverty line and foodbanks are a necessity to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
It’s not just food the banks need, it’s everything you need for daily living: toiletries, toothpaste, toilet roll, nappies, anything you would usually include in your weekly shop. They also rely monetary donations to assist the upkeep of the store, office and their van.
Next time you are in the supermarket, why not see if they are collecting on behalf of your local FoodBank and pick-up one of their urgently needed items to drop in the basket on your way out. Alternatively, you can text “FOODBANK10” to 70078 for a £10 donation to Farnborough FoodBank (to donate a different amount change the number to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10. 15 or 20).