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No easing up for foodbanks despite easing of lockdown

No easing up for foodbanks despite easing of lockdown

Rotary4foodbanks has been providing major support for foodbanks across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. But what lies ahead with Covid lockdown restrictions easing?

It is shocking fact that in 2021 hundreds, maybe thousands of children in Nottinghamshire are going to bed hungry.

Rotary clubs in the county, as well as across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, have teamed up to help fight the crisis.

Their efforts have attracted wide support from local communities. But as summer approaches, they and the foodbanks they support fear the problem will intensify.

The upturn in unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis is resulting in many more families relying on food banks. This comes at a time when food banks were already stretched to the limit.

Rotary4foodbanks is a project providing a sustainable supply channel for the future.

The scheme dispenses food donations to food banks cost effectively and enables them to purchase foods at the most competitive price with the cash donations they receive.

Rotary4Foodbanks delivery in Leicester

Rotary4foodbanks is a project providing a sustainable supply channel for the future.

An army of volunteers are readily bulk-buying in Morrisons to deliver low-cost packages to desperate food banks in the region.

They are currently supplying up to 60 foodbanks in East Midlands after raising £150,000 following an immense response to an appeal for more volunteers to help with the crisis.

“I have never had a response to a project like I have with this one,” says the scheme’s co-ordinators, John Cavey.

Just over the county border in Leicestershire, five foodbanks have recently received £13,000 worth of food and domestic provisions organised by Rotary4Foodbanks, in conjunction with Leicester Rotary.

The five food banks include the Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS), an organisation helping those in need around the UK.

MLSS operates on Sikh-based ethos, which helps support all people regardless of social status.

Just over the county border in Leicestershire, five foodbanks have recently received £13,000 worth of food and domestic provisions organised by Rotary4Foodbanks, in conjunction with Leicester Rotary.”

Langar is the term used where food is served for free, regardless of race, religion, and background.

Ginda Basra, team leader and trustee of MLSS said: “The donation from Rotary will help us to continue providing the hot meals and food parcels.

“During the pandemic, which is one year now, have supplied 175,000 free meals which are cooked here in Leicester and delivered by 15-20 volunteers.”

The other foodbanks being helped are: Age UK, Open Hands, Zinthiya Trust and Help the Homeless.

Food and provisions are purchased in a bulk-buying scheme arranged with Morrisons supermarket by Rotary4Foodbanks.

This enabled each foodbank to order the items they require which Rotary pays for. Morrisons then delivers direct to the foodbanks.

Delivery to MLSS in Leicestershire

Rotary4Foodbanks is now organising deliveries across the Midlands, South Yorkshire and the Home Counties to over 70 foodbanks.

Parmdeep Vadesha, leader of Leicester Rotary said: “Thanks to the people of Leicester we have collected £13,000 which will help Rotary4Foodbanks support five foodbanks across Leicester and surrounding area.

“A pallet of food or domestic goods costs up to £550 which represents far better value than buying at retail prices enabling us to help those in need in the area”.

Whilst Rotary4foodbanks works hard to expand nationally, a research project is well under way.

A group of researchers conduct a short interview with individual food banks, every week to find out specifically what is needed for their area.

Rotary4Foodbanks is now organising deliveries across the Midlands, South Yorkshire and the Home Counties to over 70 foodbanks.”

All foodbanks are different. Getting to know them on a personal level ensures each gets the right supplies at the right time. As a result, more families get the food they need.

Ruth Longfellow, co-ordinator of Church in the Peak Food Bank in Matlock, Derbyshire, is full of praise for the initiative.

She said: “Rotary4foodbanks have provided endless financial and practical help, nearly two-thirds of the deliveries are organised by them.

Our foodbank and the people we distribute to would be in a much more vulnerable position without them.”

Sarah, a mum of two. is currently relying on food banks. She spoke about how valuable these foodbanks have become during the pandemic.

She said “I have never struggled to feed my family in the past as I worked extra hours to cover the food shop, however those hours are not available to me at the minute.

“I now depend on my weekly food packages delivered by my local foodbank to stay afloat.”

The pandemic is not only detrimental to thousands of families, but it is also changing the dynamic of people volunteering for foodbanks.

With the over 50s age group being told to shield, they are now no longer the driving force.

The pandemic is not only detrimental to thousands of families, but it is also changing the dynamic of people volunteering for foodbanks.”

“We are now seeing a real cross-spectrum of people volunteering for food banks, due to so many people being furloughed and having more time on their hands” said Ruth Longfellow.

“This is amazing but also worrying for us as once this demographic is back at work who will be there to carry on the support?”

With speculation of a weak economic outlook for the next four years, foodbanks are more important now than ever.

Church in the Peak hit an all-time high in May, and distributed to over 70 households, compared to the original 50 households pre-Covid.

This added pressure will make the summer months even tougher for many food banks, due to patterns from previous years showing the number of donations decreasing dramatically around springtime.

“People forget about food banks in the summer when they are outside enjoying the sunshine,” added Ruth.

Although Rotary4foodbanks is hugely benefitting the community now, further efforts are going to be needed in the coming months to continue the progress being made.

The age group of people involved with Rotary4foodbanks is still mainly 30–60-year-olds.

John Stamp in charge of public relations for Rotary4foodbanks, said: “Volunteers at foodbanks are crying out for young people to help and provide fresh and innovative ideas.”

Volunteering for foodbanks needs to become trendy to encourage the younger generation to take matters into their own hands and start making a difference themselves.

They are the future, and this crisis will undoubtedly impact them in one way or another.


Who do we contact?

Grants – Neil Swanwick: neilswanwick@yahoo.co.uk

I want to join the project team – John Cavey rotaryfoundation1220@gmail.com

I can help with physical distribution – Lesley Reynolds lesleyreynolds1@msn.com

To make a donation to Rotary4foodbanks visit –

www.justgiving.com/campaign/rotary4foodbanks