A community works together: the practicalities of volunteering in a local foodbank

Preparing food parcels
Photo by Jackie Taylor

In March during lockdown 1 a group of us from three local estates established a volunteer foodbank to help feed those affected by Covid -19. This was organised from a local community centre. Our users include those who are isolating, shielding, on low income and who have lost work through the pandemic. The contributors are our local authority who gave us a grant, local businesses, supermarkets and residents. We distribute parcels weekly for people using a regular day for each site. One local resident even donated a fridge freezer to help us! Our local pub also helped out with freezer space during lockdown.

Our managers coordinate the collections, storage and packing of food parcels and also help us with the hard work. Asda and Sainsbury deliver food to the community centre in the afternoon. Luckily, some local businesses bring us fresh food at the start of the week so we can distribute this in the following two days.  Sometimes somebody collects food supplies from Tesco. One of the coordinators in particular, puts a lot of effort into arranging parcels correctly.  In the afternoon. the delivery people arrive to deliver the parcels to people who are local to the community centre. A driver collects the food to distribute around the other estates. We then help to unload and store the food properly. This food is then delivered by residents of those estates to ensure that others don’t enter the estate during lockdowns. People delivering to the area local to the community centre use trolleys to deliver the food in and out of the flats as this is easier. We ensure that fresh food is delivered the same day or with meat frozen. Usually foodbanks collect non-perishable goods as these can be stored for a long time.

Unfortunately, this foodbank will close in early December just in time for Christmas. This is particularly sad as many people in need will fall through the cracks: in particular, those who are isolating for health reasons. Many people really appreciated and loved their parcels especially with the added touch of fresh food and vegetables. This has been an important community project for the area for those who receive and give help, and it shows what can be achieved by working together.

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