Stratford Foodbank appeal for donations as stock runs out
EMPTY shelves and rising demand at Stratford Foodbank have left the charity desperate for donations and calling on the district to come to its aid.
The foodbank, based in the Fred Winter Centre on Guild Street, has seen donations plummet in the last month while demand has continued to rise amid the cost-of-living crisis, as operations manager, Zoe Ballinger, explained.
“We’ve got a real problem,” said Zoe. “We’ve never had a situation like this before, and in some areas of the bank we actually have no food.
“We’ve been putting some posts on social media, and my colleague said to me, ‘What shall we ask for?’ I said I don’t even know where to start because we’re so short on so many things.
“It’s a double whammy of a drop in donations and an increase in demand. People are donating less because they now can’t afford to or have donated to Ukraine. Then demand has increased and continues to be at a consistently higher level than it has been. It means that over a period of time, stock has just been whittled away.
“We’ll get a glut of donations and then as fast as they come in, they’re going out again.”
In a bid to once again get much-needed donations rolling in, the foodbank is launching a competition for children in Stratford to help play their part, as Zoe explained.
“In the spirit of trying to really get some engagement we thought we’d get the kids involved,” she said. “So we’re going to hold a competition for primary schools and community groups where kids create a poster saying, ‘Stratford Food Bank is Very Hungry: We Need Food’, with a list of a few of the things we need, and they’d be displayed at their schools or homes.
“Each school or organisation then picks a winner, and all of those winning posters will displayed in the Fred Winter Centre, with each winner getting a prize.”
This plea for help from the community comes after the MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, questioned the need for foodbanks during the House of Commons’ Queen’s Speech debate. The politician, who volunteers at a foodbank in his constituency, said: “I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for foodbanks in this country”, going on to say that families using the service “cannot budget”.
Zoe, however, stressed how important foodbanks are, especially as prices continue to increase.
“As we know, the cost of living is going off the scale; gas and electricity bills and the cost of food is going through the roof, and people’s salaries are not keeping up with that,” she told the Herald. “The majority of people we see at the foodbank are there because their income can’t match their outgoings.
“That’s not outgoings in the sense of a choice, like going out for dinner, it’s about being able to meet everything that they need to; their mortgage, their bills, their cost of food, and all the other things they need to buy. So the idea that people simply can’t budget I absolutely disagree with. We have the money advice programme, and we’ve had more referrals than we ever expected, so if people are struggling to budget we’re trying to do something about that.”
Stratford Foodbank has launched a poster competition asking schoolchildren to help in its appeal for food donations.
Children are being challenged to create an eye-catching poster including the phrase, ‘Stratford Food Bank is Very Hungry’ as well as items from the charity’s list of most-needed foods, including:
- UHT and powered milk
- Peanut butter, jam and honey
- Tinned vegetables, sauces and meats
- Longlife fruit juice and squash
- Tea bags, biscuits and instant coffee
- Rice pudding, custard and Angel Delight
- Cleaning products and toiletries including shampoo, shower gel and razors
Children should submit their designs to their teachers and put another in their window at home so that the community can see the appeal and play its part.
Teachers will decide on the winning posters, which will be displayed in the Fred Winter Centre, with winners receiving a voucher and certificate to say thank you.
To sign your school up for the poster competition, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Stratford Foodbank’s donation points, visit https://stratforduponavon.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/.