Food insecurity is something that could impact any of us at any stage of our lives. Not knowing how we will put food on the table or feed our children can be a scary prospect but thankfully there are services who can help.
Nathanya from the Leeds South and East Foodbank reports that demand for assistance is up 45% in comparison from figures last year. This is due to a wide range of factors but the foodbank is now seeing an influx of people.
Some individuals and families were able to just about survive pre-covid, but now face the end of the government’s furlough scheme. Many on furlough had already taken a 20% pay cut and now people are facing redundancy. Too often this has pushed people over the edge, into a situation where they are unable to put food on the table.
Supermarkets have reduced many discounts and special offers making food unaffordable for some, although the cost of food itself has not gone up.
As children have been out of school for much longer than anyone anticipated, families who were depending on free school meals have been left trying to make already tight budgets stretch further and many have needed assistance from the foodbank just to feed their children. The pressure is especially present now with children requiring new school uniform for the new school year.
The foodbank has been putting in place provisions for another increase in referrals and want to be prepared and mindful that this may happen. This is primarily due to the recession in the economy coupled with associated job losses. They hope that their forecast is wrong and there isn’t such a large influx of referrals but they are keen to be ready especially considering Covid brought with it such an upturn and increase in referrals in such a short space of time.
The Foodbank has also seen changes in the way people donate and the amount they donate, but are keen to highlight the continuing generosity shown by individuals and companies. The foodbank has a healthy supply of food for those who need it, but the stock they have on the shelves are is than last year.
Being unable to do their usual collections and drives, Leeds South and East have had to find creative ways of collecting donations but have also seen a great deal of generosity. Local supermarkets have done drives to collect food, changing the way they advertise and collect the items to meet with government regulations.
Local people have also been finding creative ways to donate food items. One football team had a bring a tin event each time a player came to practice. More recently residents in Churwell New Village had a drive to collect food items in bulk from the community. This was done over a period of a couple of weeks with individuals donating what they could, before it was all kindly driven over to the foodbank’s warehouse.
Leeds South and East Foodbank provide much more than physical food and offer a holistic service to clients. They are able to signpost people to services which can assist them in practical ways and help lift them into a position where they can become self sufficient and not rely on foodbank assistance. This provision has been difficult in the wake of Covid with many services closing their doors. Now these services are slowly reopening this provision is resuming and accessible for all clients who are referred to them.
Covid has also forced changes on the foodbank itself, but they now operate a delivery system which minimises the contact between the volunteers and clients and there are sensible, robust systems in place to protect the volunteers as they process donations and package the food parcels. They have a central warehouse where the food parcels are prepared in a safe way and from here, they dispatch them via volunteers and deliver to individuals and families who are experiencing food crisis.
Nathanya explained that usually they have around 120 active volunteers on the books to help package and distribute food parcels but this has dropped substantially to 25-30 active regular helpers due to shielding or volunteers isolating. She is however hopeful that as shielding ends and volunteers become able to help, they will see an increase in volunteers returning and helping out.
Nathanya was keen to point out that the Foodbank has worked hard to keep their volunteers in the loop and as well as ensuring their physical wellbeing is met, they are also regularly informed of what the foodbank is doing to try and break isolation some may have faced otherwise. They have a regular newsletter for the volunteers which helps to keep them informed and keep spirits high
There are many ways you can help the Leeds South and East Foodbank. The best way is either donating funds or food. If you would like more information on either of these options or even advice on how to safely collect or organise a food drive visit their website at leedssouthandeast.foodbank.org.uk where you can also find details of their Crowdfunder appeal.
You can contact the Foodbank directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call, (0113) 345 0850.
- Long Life Milk
- Dilute/Long life Juice
- Tinned Fish
- Tinned Meat
- Tinned rice pudding
- Tinned Potatoes
PLENTY IN STOCK:
If you or someone you know requires a food parcel, please contact the Citizens Advice Bureau who are referring clients on behalf of the Foodbank. Their number is 0808 208 2138 and they are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
If you can afford to, please donate funds or food to Leeds South & East Foodbank. Donate by BACS now: Account Number 20325833; Sort Code 60-83-01. For other methods go to leedssouthandeast.foodbank.org.uk. Donate food at supermarkets or 7 Lenton Drive, Parkside Industrial Estate, LS11 5JW
They Shall Not Starve
Unfortunately it’s not a new story and it’s not very ‘sexy’, but there is little more important in life than having enough to eat. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities in our society and made them worse. The end of the furlough scheme is expected to lead to more unemployment and, as the benefits system is inadequate, more people needing help from Foodbanks. No one must go hungry – that’s why we’ve repeatedly published details of how to get help if you need it. But that help only exists because of donations. So if you can afford it, please, please donate now to keep food on your neighbour’s table.