Fridays are probably our busiest day as many parents start to worry about how they’re going to feed their kids over the weekend, says Bedford Foodbank project manager Sarah Broughton.
Bedford Foodbank was originally set up to provide food at Christmas but soon expanded to fill a growing need in the community under the banner of the Trussell Trust’s UK wide foodbank network.
Food is donated by individuals, schools, businesses and churches, with health visitors, charities and GPs issuing clients with a voucher which can then be exchanged at a distribution centre for three days of nutritionally balanced emergency food.
Sarah said: “There is a lot of misconception about foodbanks. No-one wants to use a foodbank. People who come to us have nowhere else to go. Many of us are lucky we have jobs, caring friends and families, support networks. But not everyone is so fortunate. Some people lose their jobs, fall through the cracks and struggle to feed themselves or their kids. It’s heartbreaking. I know many parents who skip meals just so their kids can eat.
“One woman with three young children pleaded with their headmaster on a Monday morning to put her kids in care as she hadn’t been able to feed them since the Saturday afternoon. How desperate can a mother be to give up her kids just so that they can eat? Food is a basic right yet for many families it’s not – through no fault of their own.
“No-one wants to be here, many people feel embarrassed or ashamed. I would be delighted if our team of 65 dedicated volunteers did not work here as it would mean Bedford food bank was not needed. But we now distribute 5 tonnes of food a month to 350 people.”
University student and Bedford foodbank volunteer Andre Ha-cheng, 21, said: “People need to visit a food bank and see that no-one wants to be here before making their minds up. I volunteer because it is so rewarding.”
Sarah added: “We don’t judge anyone. We offer a safe haven where people can chat over a hot drink. We are sensitive to people’s situations, and even provide supermarket carrier bags for example: but we know when people are hungry – they normally finish a plate of biscuits before we give them their food.”
On May 17 Waitrose will hold a food bank collection. Visit www.bedford.foodbank.org.uk www.trusselltrust.org @bedfordfoodbank