Shocking scale of Coronavirus impact revealed by food banks supported by Central England Co-op campaign

Food banks currently being supported by donations from kind-hearted Central England Co-op Members and customers have revealed the shocking impact the Coronavirus has been having on them and the people they support.

Over 65 food bank partners are currently sharing out over 75,000 items donated by people heading into Co-op food stores as part of an urgent appeal launched after the nationwide lockdown was put in place and organisations saw a major spike in demand alongside a fall in donations.

Today, food banks from across the country share their experiences of what it has been like during lockdown ranging from one handing out an extra 8,000 meals in just one month to another seeing demand spike from 120 people a week to over 700.

The Welcome Centre, based in Huddersfield, revealed that usage was up by 30% in the past two months.

In April, it handed out 8,000 extra meals and over 35,000 in total. This meant that it helped 1,114 people, 257 of which were children.

It is still appealing for donations including long-life milk and tinned meats.

Lynne Oakley, from Elim Life Church Food Bank, provided an update on its work helping people in Birmingham.

She said: “The number of parcels being given out has increased, and we expect to see the number continue to climb. We have 11 vulnerable people who receive a weekly food parcel and we help quite a number of families who are struggling because of the lockdown.” 

Leicestershire-based Soar Valley Community Food Project has seen a 50% increase in requests for food since the start of the pandemic.

Tim Jackson, from the project, said: “The donations have been amazing from all parts of the community which has meant we are coping with the increase.

“The donations in Central England Co-op stores have risen significantly, probably between three and four times what they were in January.”

Peterborough Food Bank has seen a 70% increase in people needing food bank parcels and it has seen a 125% increase in the numbers it has fed.

Juliet Welch, from the food bank, said: “We are now giving out on average 130 food parcels per week so you can see if this continues we need to ensure we have enough food donations going forward.”

In Lichfield, the city food bank fed nearly five times as many people last month as it did in April 2019. There were nearly eight times as many children.

The April 2020 figures for clients fed were also 130 per cent up on the last ‘normal’ month which was February.

Jane Hare, Secretary at Lichfield Food Bank, said: “Our most urgently needed items are currently tinned meat, tinned custard and tinned rice pudding.”

Matthew Scade, from Waveney Food Bank, revealed that it handed out over 1,000 meals every day that it was open in April – over 23,000 in total.

It has seen demand grow from 120 people a week to up to 300 on average. But, in the third week of April, it helped 725 people.

The food bank is still in need of tinned meat, rice pudding, instant mash and tinned fruit.

People looking to make a difference can make a donation to their local food bank by visiting their nearest Central England Co-op food store and dropping an item or two into special collection points.

Donations will be collected up from Central England Co-op stores and used to create food parcels, which contain around 11 items and will provide at least three days’ worth of meals for those in need.

Items needed for the food bank appeal include cereal, tinned food and fruit, tea bags, dried pasta, rice, long life milk, sugar, biscuits, fruit juice and squash, pasta sauce and instant coffee.