Virus leads to surge in food bank use


A food bank’s need for meals has surged by more than a third compared to a year ago, because of the surging number of people hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Norwood Foodbank, in Brixton, has now teamed up with other food banks in South London to give to families unable to afford essentials, with the help of a donation of food from Tesco.

Three food banks from Brixton, Vauxhall and Waterloo have been supporting 1,831 adults and 1,213 children in South London who are in need of emergency food to get through this difficult time.

The total number they are currently helping is 3,044 adults and children, compared to 2,221 at the same time last year.

The group of food banks have been receiving food from Tesco to help them cope with the increased need.

Volunteers are working hard to continue their support of those in need, while ensuring they are keeping everyone safe under government guidance.

Johanna Derry Hall, who has been volunteering with Norwood Foodbank for the past eight years, said: “We are, as ever, incredibly grateful for all the support Tesco gives to our food bank – especially during the lockdown, when the hard work and generosity of Tesco staff is invaluable to us.

“Keeping stores open and making sure there are still drop-off points for people to donate items to the food bank has meant we can keep our shelves full enough to give food packages to everyone who needs them in our area.

“In a time of crisis like this, it’s a partnership we’d be lost without.”

Norwood Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network. Tesco is donating the additional £15m of food to support its partner charities, the Trussell Trust and FareShare, to respond to the extra demands to provide emergency food supplies caused by the pandemic.

Kate Dangerfield, the Trussell Trust’s area manager for South London, said the donations were helping to support people unable to afford their own food: She said: “We’re incredibly grateful for Tesco’s continued support throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Food banks in our network across Brixton have gone above and beyond to ensure they’re able to continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food.

“These additional food donations from Tesco have helped to ensure people in financial crisis in South London are able to access the emergency food and support they need during these challenging times.”

The £15m of additional food donated by Tesco is part of a £30m package of support, which also includes a £1m cash donation to the Trussell Trust and FareShare to support their running costs, a £2m donation to the British Red Cross and a £2m pot from its Bags of Help community donation scheme, which supports local charities and community groups supporting vulnerable people with £500 grants.

Already 122 trucks full of Tesco food donations have been delivered to the two charities, with 110 tonnes of food being delivered to the FareShare regional centre in London to support 220 charities with 261,910 meals-worth of food, and enough long-life food to provide almost 1,000 meals for people in crisis being supplied to local Trussell Trust food banks each week.

Claire De Silva, Tesco’s head of community, said. “In every part of the UK there are charities and community groups doing amazing work to feed people during the pandemic, and we are glad that we have been able to support them in helping so many vulnerable people.”

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