Warning of summer holiday spike in food bank demand
Food banks have played a vital role as a social safety net during the coronavirus crisis, even more so than usual, providing meals and essentials for those who find themselves suddenly in crisis.
While the coronavirus lockdown is being eased, more businesses are returning to a sense of normality and more people are able to earn again, the traditional spike in food bank demand during the school summer holiday is right around the corner.
That is the view of Cat Finch, volunteer coordinator of Newport Foodbank, which has provided more than 10,000 meals since March. She worries that this summer could be the busiest in all its seven years.
Newport Town Council has also worked with the Food Share Project and kind volunteers to do their own deliveries to vulnerable households, although the final delivery took place this week.
Newport Foodbank was set up seven years ago and has helped countless people since then with food parcels providing square meals as well as support for people dealing with various issues.
The small team of volunteers (Liz Mountford, Bridget Supple, Irene Evans and Esther Wright plus Cat Finch) have been carrying on their hard work throughout the pandemic helping people affected.
"When you add the numbers up they are huge," said Cat.
In May the volunteers provided 87 food parcels across the area, which includes Newport as well as villages including Edgmond and Crudgington.
Those food parcels fed 108 adults and 51 children, and each food parcel comprises three meals a day for seven days plus toiletries and essentials.
The demand was at its highest in April (3,360 meals provided, compared to 2,500 in March and 3,339 in May).
Cat said that much still depends on the specifics of the government's furlough scheme, but the team is braced for a surge over the rest of summer as children begin their breaks from school.
"We expect a spike, depending on [furlough] – we are expecting to be busy in June, July and August."
She said the support of the public and businesses has been key in allowing them to face the challenge posed by coronavirus – chains allow the volunteers to stock up during key worker hours and residents continue to donate food.
"We would like to say a big thank you to all the local businesses and local people who have continued to support us during this time," she added.
"We couldn't operate without you."
There are drop-ins every Tuesday at the navy club in Bellmans Yard, where all manner of support can be accessed.
"On Tuesday mornings you can drop in, you can see us about lots of things – we are not just about food. We have got support workers we use [Kirsty, Lisa and Chris from Thrive]," she said.
Cat said that some of the areas the workers can help with include debt management, housing issues and filling out documents.
To learn more, call the food bank on 01952 811734 between 9am and 1pm on Tuesdays, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.