The first two weeks of the Coronavirus lockdown saw an unprecedented rise in foodbank use across the UK as household incomes were hit, according to data from emergency food aid charities.
The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, said it experienced its busiest ever period when the lockdown was announced, issuing 50,000 food parcels in one week, almost double its usual.
The Oundle Foodbank operates under the Trussell Trust and is located at the Methodist Church, open from 2-3pm on Tuesdays. Vouchers are issued from local organisations such as Oundle churches, the council offices in Fletton House, health visitors, and both Prince William and Oundle Primary Schools. The customer then brings the voucher to the Foodbank on Tuesday afternoons. In Oundle the demand is normally quite low and sometimes there are no clients in any given week.
The Oundle Foodbank coordinator Peter Lewins said that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the numbers of requests have increased considerably. The agency, Northamptonshire Children First has referred more clients to the Oundle Foodbank during this time. Mr Lewins said: “We have noticed that there are more requests from families with children than has been the case in the past. In April, for example, we helped eleven families as opposed to an average of two or three in a typical month.”
In Oundle the need for donations has increased during the lockdown period.
Mr Lewins said: “Instead of providing a three-day emergency food supply, which is the normal Trussell Trust procedure, we now aim to provide a seven-day supply. Because of this, we are distributing considerably more food than in the past. But fortunately we have been able to meet the demand, firstly because the public has continued to leave generous donations in the baskets provided at Waitrose and the Coop, and secondly because Oundle Rotary Club has been very active in collecting a huge amount of donations.”
Some businesses such as Salerno’s have donated pasta, chocolate eggs and panettones. Prince William School also donated many Easter eggs from an end-of-term raffle. The Oundle Rotary Club has made nine deliveries of donated food, and Waitrose donated many bags that were needed to pack the food for deliveries to customers.
The process of delivery of products has also changed due to the lockdown regulations and social distancing. Instead of customers going to the foodbank to collect food, requests are made via email, and the volunteers assemble and deliver parcels to the customers’ homes. The volunteers who deliver parcels are strictly compliant with government recommendations and social distancing regulations. The volunteers who work together to package and deliver the goods are from the same household, and they drop off the parcels from a safe distance.