Banking on good will and good food at Christmas

Store: A Food bank worker based at Tesco in Southey
Store: A Food bank worker based at Tesco in Southey
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IT’S CHRISTMAS in Sheffield in 2012 and families are going hungry.

In 2013 even more of them will know what it’s like to go without food in a society that throws away tonnes of the stuff every day.

Food banks – the modern-day descendants of the 1930s soup kitchens – are booming in the city to try to cope with the growing numbers of parents who cannot feed their children.

One family in the city are said to have been without food for five days after a call to a food bank arrived too late.

Chris Marriott of the Jubilee Food Bank in the city tells the story.

“We had a family that did not eat for four or five days and the situation is definitely getting worse.

“Some people are fleeing domestic violence, others have missed a DSS appointment and benefits have been stopped leaving families with no income at all.

“It was a family in Shirecliffe that did not eat for five days. They called late on a Friday to ask for help but our offices had closed. Buy the time they called on the Monday they had been without food since the previous Wednesday.

“One of the children in the family was of school age and the school had picked up on the fact that the child had not eaten and offered food.

“By the time we go to the family the mother was visibly shaken and took the food straight from us and started preparing it.

“When you actually go to meet the individuals concerned they aren’t numbers any more they are real people and it’s a real eye-opener.”

At the start of this year there were three food banks in Sheffield, providing free meals to struggling individuals and families who cannot feed themselves.

Today there are 10 such organisations – and even they are feeling the pressure – some having to turn away the needy because they have no food left.

Church and charity workers are forced to admit – despite their best efforts – that families in Sheffield will go hungry this Christmas as food and fuel prices rise and benefits and wages stay frozen.

Now an estimated 80 Sheffield families need feeding every week to get by.

“The main issue for people is that it is humiliating for them to admit that they can’t feed their children and that makes it difficult for them to ask for help,” said Sarah Gowen, manager of Homestart, Sheffield.

“We support parents and try to help them to help their children but more and more of them are having to resort to food banks.

“With cuts in welfare programmes and benefits there is more pressure on people over Christmas.

“People try to make it a treat time for their families and most people are genuinely trying.

“Food, gas and electricity have gone up, benefits and low-income wages have not and services are being cut.”

Nick Allan helps run S6, a food bank based at St Thomas Church, Philadelphia and serving areas like Upperthorpe and Langsett.

“Tesco and Asda have allowed us to ask customers to help with food and we have been given 1,000 tonnes from all around the country.

“We are part of the Trussell Trust which helps run 300 food banks across the country.”

According to the State of Sheffield Report 2012, over one-fifth (50,000+) of households in Sheffield are living in poverty. 28% of the city’s population live in neighbourhoods that fall into the “most 20% deprived” in the UK.

What is a food bank?

Q. What is a foodbank?

Foodbanks are voluntary organisations that provide three days non-perishable, nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to people in crisis.

Q. How does a foodbank work?

Foodbanks are run by the community for the community: non-perishable food is donated by local people – schools, businesses, churches and individuals. Every client is referred to the foodbank by a frontline care professional such as a GP or social worker. Foodbanks are an emergency food service: to prevent dependency on foodbanks our clients are entitled to up to three consecutive foodbank vouchers.

Q. How much of the food given out is donated by the public?

Over 90% food given out by foodbanks is donated by the general public, including individuals, schools, businesses and churches. Last year 1200 tonnes of food was donated in 12 months. Collections from the public at supermarkets, like those at Tesco’s ‘Help Feed People in Need’ are one of the main ways that foodbanks collect food.

Q. How many people are helped by foodbanks?

Almost 110,000 people nationally received emergency food from a Trussell Trust foodbank from April – September 2012, compared to 128,697 in total during 2011-12 financial year. Since recession began, increasing numbers of people have turned to foodbanks for help. We’ve seen a 400% increase in numbers fed since 2008.

Q. How do foodbanks help people to resolve the longer term problem?

As well as providing clients with emergency food, foodbanks also provide a listening ear and a signposting service. By signposting clients to relevant agencies and charities that specialise in resolving the client’s specific problem, foodbanks help ensure that clients are best placed to resolve the underlying issue that meant they needed to turn to a foodbank.

Q. Does the government fund foodbanks?

Trussell Trust foodbanks receive no government funding and rely entirely on the generosity of the public and grant giving bodies.

Q. How can I receive help from a foodbank?

To receive help from a foodbank you must be given a foodbank voucher by a frontline care professional such as a GP or social worker. Your local foodbank will be able to signpost you to a care professional in your area who can help you through your crisis and can issue a foodbank voucher. Find your nearest foodbank by using the map on our website: www.trusselltrust.org

Q. How else can I support Trussell Trust foodbanks?

Donate funds to help the Trussell Trust launch more foodbanks in towns and cities across the UK: www.trusselltrust.org . Or donate to your nearest foodbank. Volunteer at your nearest foodbank (find your nearest foodbank at www.trusselltrust.org) Hold a foodbank collection at your office, school, church or group. Start a foodbank: www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects

A food bank prepares for its busiest

festive period

What is a food bank?

Food banks are voluntary organisations that provide three days’ non-perishable, nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to people in crisis.

How does a food bank work?

Food banks are run by the community for the community: non-perishable food is donated by local people – schools, businesses, churches and individuals. Every client is referred to the food bank by a frontline care professional such as a GP or social worker. Food banks are an emergency food service: to prevent dependency on food banks our clients are entitled to up to three consecutive food bank vouchers.

How much of the food given out is donated by the public?

Over 90% food given out by food banks is donated by the general public, including individuals, schools, businesses and churches. Last year 1200 tonnes of food was donated in 12 months. Collections from the public at supermarkets, like those at Tesco’s Help Feed People in Need are one of the main ways that food banks collect food.

How many people are helped by food banks?

Almost 110,000 people nationally received emergency food from a Trussell Trust food bank from April-September 2012, compared to 128,697 in total during 2011-12 financial year. Since recession began, increasing numbers of people have turned to food banks for help. We’ve seen a 400% increase in numbers fed since 2008.

How do food banks help people to resolve the longer term problem?

As well as providing clients with emergency food, food banks also provide a listening ear and a signposting service. By signposting clients to relevant agencies and charities that specialise in resolving the client’s specific problem, food banks help ensure that clients are best placed to resolve the underlying issue that meant they needed to turn to a food bank.

Does the government fund food banks?

Trussell Trust food banks receive no government funding and rely entirely on the generosity of the public and grant giving bodies.

How can I receive help from a food bank?

To receive help from a food bank you must be given a food bank voucher by a frontline care professional such as a GP or social worker. Your local food bank will be able to signpost you to a care professional in your area who can help you through your crisis and can issue a food bank voucher. Find your nearest food bank by using the map on our website: www.trusselltrust.org

How else can I support Trussell Trust food banks?

Donate funds to help the Trussell Trust launch more food banks in towns and cities across the UK: www.trusselltrust.org . Or donate to your nearest food bank. Volunteer at your nearest food bank (find your nearest food bank at www.trusselltrust.org) Hold a food bank collection at your office, school, church or group. Start a food bank: www.trusselltrust.org/food bank-projects