COVID-19 | Fighting Disease

Foodbank gets Rotary boost as demand soars

Foodbank gets Rotary boost as demand soars

Demand for foodbanks is increasing, and it is expected to get worse when furloughs end, and businesses make redundancies. In Nottingham, they are working hard to meet demand with the help of Rotarians.

Arnold Foodbank in Nottingham is receiving 100 requests every week for food parcels and that number is set to increase still further as the economic downturn bites, warns foodbank manager Helen Lloyd.

But a new £100,000 scheme by Nottinghamshire Rotary Clubs is providing a vital lifeline for Arnold Foodbank and others across the region.

Val Leivers from Sherwood Sunrisers Rotary explained: “Organisations like Arnold Foodbank do brilliant work at local level in the community.

“They rely for supplies on the support of supermarkets, businesses and the general public making donations.

“As local Rotarians we wanted to help in a big way too.  Delivering 150 cases of food supplies seemed a good way to do that.”

foodbankThe Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region.

By the end of July it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.”

According to Helen Lloyd, who heads a team of volunteers running the Arnold operation from Daybrook Baptist Church on Mansfield Road, the foodbank is seeing more new users needing food than ever before:

“As the furlough system ends and more people face redundancy, we are expecting to see demand increase still further.

“We are bracing ourselves for the second wave.

“We enjoy marvellous support from local supermarkets and the general public but the additional help we are now getting from Rotary is proving a real lifeline, providing us with bulk supplies of key staples like tea, coffee, cereal and tinned fruit at a time of real need for so many vulnerable people locally.”

The Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region.”

The Arnold team has been operating a delivery service during lockdown, with volunteer drivers ensuring that people as far afield as Carlton and Basford who are unable to collect food parcels don’t go hungry.

Since its formation in 1994, Sherwood Sunrisers Rotary has helped many thousands of people and raised over £500,000 for good causes, most of which has been used to support community projects in Sherwood and Nottingham.

It’s a similar situation over the county border where local Rotary clubs have teamed up with YMCA foodbanks in Burton and Derby to meet growing demand in what Paul Laffey of the YMCA describes as the busiest year ever in his 34 years in the charity sector.

As part of an East Midlands-wide initiative, Derby Mercia Rotary has donated £2,000 worth of supplies to the two YMCA foodbanks, topping up a regular donation made to Burton YMCA foodbank by Bretby and Burton Rotary clubs.

Paul Laffey, who heads up a large team of volunteers, ten of whom operate the YMCA Burton foodbank from James Street in Burton said:  “When a pallet stacked high with porridge, coffee, tea, tinned tuna and other vital supplies arrived, we were overjoyed.

“Demand is up by 51% compared with the same period last year, and we expect that to increase still further as the economic impact of the pandemic unfolds.

“We rely on the generosity of individuals and organisations like Rotary to ensure that those in crisis in our community don’t go hungry.”

In 2019 YMCA Burton alone supported 3030 people with vital food supplies and toiletries.

“Shockingly,” says Paul, “741 of those were under the age of 18.

“We see a marked increase in demand in school holidays when children often go hungry with the loss of school meals.

“The same has been the case while schools have been closed during lockdown. The Rotary club support couldn’t have come at a better time.”