This year, food banks in the UK saw a 47% increase in use - a shocking statistic.
The figures from The Trussell Trust’s network are from April-September 2020, building on record demand experienced during the same period last year.
Lincolnshire Co-op has regular food bank collection bins in all of our food stores, but with the need for these services continuing to increase, we decided to support local food banks and community larders through our ongoing Food Bank Advent Calendar campaign.
Many food banks request donations such as toiletries, sanitary products, nappies and pet food. Next time you contribute, why not donate toothpaste, deodorant or shower gel? Nobody should have to choose between eating and being clean and these items can go a long way in helping somebody to feel better when they are experiencing a crisis.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused a rise in unemployment which has led to an increased demand on food banks and community larders.
The Trussell Trust gave out more than 1.2 million emergency food parcels between 1st April and 30th September 2020, making it the busiest ever half-year period for food banks; over 470,000 of these parcels went to children.
Amy Colley, Co-ordinator at Lincoln Food Bank says: "2020 has been a very busy year for the food bank. We have had to increase the amount of teams to keep up with the demand and thanks to our incredible volunteers our food bank centres have stayed open throughout.
"We have seen increased generosity and as a result have given out over 58 tonnes of food to local people in need."
As well as parcels of food and essential items, many food banks also provide vital signposting services for people in need. For example, volunteers can give out information on finding financial advice, welfare support, community groups, and further support services.
Amy says: "We have developed an online referral system and a delivery system so people who are isolating can still receive support, which was so useful during lockdown."
At Lincolnshire Co-op, we're keen to help food banks and community larders connect with each other to create a network of services. We recently held a virtual food bank summit (see above) to discuss future campaigns and ways of supporting each other and the local community moving forward.
Sadly, food poverty often goes hand in hand with social isolation, particularly during lockdown, and a smiling face and non-judgemental conversation with a volunteer can mean a lot to somebody who is facing a crisis.
Amy says: "We've had people come into the food bank who have stayed, formed community relationships and then decided to join a team at the food bank, which is just so encouraging."
One mum got in touch with Amy after she received help from Lincoln Food Bank and told her: "I am so thankful for these essential items. For once in a very long time I haven’t had to say no to my children. It has been awful the last few months ‘getting by’.
It means so much more than just food - it’s a restful few nights sleep, mental stability, and just generally being able to not worry/dread mealtimes."
Despite restrictions, it's easier than ever to support your local food bank or community larder.
One way is by dropping off your donations in a collection bin at your local Lincolnshire Co-op food store when you're picking up your own essentials. This winter we're supporting 40 local community larders and food banks with our Food Bank Advent Calendar campaign. Click here to find out how you can get involved.
According to Amy, Lincoln Food Bank would not exist without donations and volunteers. She says: "Donations are so appreciated and needed, without them we would not have been able to support the 5500 people that we have done so far this year.
"Every donation makes a difference, it might just seem like a random box of cereal or tin of veg but every single item goes into the hands of someone who needs it and appreciates it."
Remember, your donations make a huge difference...you might even change somebody’s life.