Thought for food
Could your church take part in a foodbank? Adrian Curtis, of the Trussell Trust, serves up a practical guide to the issues
There are 424 Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK operating over 1,000 foodbank centres. Last year, the centres gave away 10,570 tonnes of food to 554,000 people in crisis – all of them referred to foodbanks by frontline professionals. Those who were dependent on such supplies at some point in the year included 415,866 children.
Releasing these figures in April, the Trust said: “This must not become the new normal.” And yet, with 2015 setting a new record for foodbank use, the need is not going away.
Have you thought about starting a foodbank? Is it a calling for your church? Here is some advice on how to go about making sure that people in crisis where you live don’t have to go hungry.
Find out what is provided
Before you do anything else, check what provision there already is around your church. There are foodbanks in – or at least supporting – most towns across the UK. Cooperate, don’t compete. Whether they are part of the Trussell Trust’s network or independent, we would never open up a foodbank in competition with one which is working well.
In some cases where there is an independent foodbank, the need is so great that they’re only meeting part of it, in which case we would explore sensitively the need for another project. We aim to respond to whatever the needs are, so if there is a need for a new foodbank in the community, we would be delighted to work with any church to develop one.
There is a map on the Trussell Trust website (www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank) showing all our projects, but it does not show where independent foodbanks are.
Central or local?
Most foodbanks have one central warehouse and several local centres nearer to where people live, all belonging to the same project. So if your locality isn’t served by a foodbank, your church could open a local centre for a central foodbank that is serving a wider area. Contact the foodbank and talk about becoming a new branch of their existing project, rather than starting from scratch on your own. A new local centre in your church might well be beneficial, so that people in your locality don’t have to travel so far to access emergency food.
Don’t stick to obviously
There is need in all sorts of communities across the UK. Your area may be relatively affluent, but the fact that someone lives in a big house with a car does not mean they have enough cash to buy food. Many people can find themselves in a crisis from time to time, so if a church recognises a genuine need in their community we are delighted to work with them to meet that need….
This is an extract from the June 2016 edition of Reform.