Our adventures of running a Food & Toiletries Bank during a pandemic
Emergency Food, Toiletries & Clothes Bank Space to chat, be safe and much more……
Well that’s what we had evolved into and the 17th March 2020 marked not only our fifth anniversary, but also marked the first day when we couldn’t gather in large groups due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the story of the first four weeks. Part 2 - the second four weeks is to follow.
Can you help? Yeswe need donations whether non-perishable food or money to help sustain the work we are doing. Details at the end of this newsletter.
WEEK One beginning 16th March
What to do? Our normal groups couldn’t meet, so did we have an alternative? We had some food via the agreement between FareShare and Tesco for our normal Tuesday morning group.
We also had a stock of toiletries. Why not open just the Food & Toiletries Bank?
So we did!
Now how to do it safely? We put a row of tables down the middle of our cafe making a natural safe distance. The picture shows the table after our first day.
We felt difficult times would be ahead for many people we had no idea how many would come for help, would we get enough donations, how would it all work? 83 people were helped our first week
WEEK Two beginning 23rd March
We struggled to source enough food for people and the photo shows us at opening time on Monday. We thought Tuesday would be our last day. I spend Wednesday in church on my own praying and posting on social media trying to find food donations, or supermarkets we could buy food. It was a long hard day. Sufficient donations arrived so we could open on Thursday
We were cheered up on Thursday when we got a donation of sandwiches from a local One Stop Shop when the sandwiches could not be scanned on their system so they could not sell them.
Then in the afternoon, we received a donation of excess food that had been delivered for Asylum seekers. Some individuals donations arrived and we had enough to open on Saturday
We set up a donation area by the North Door so that donations could be received with social distancing in place. We got a big donation from Aldi on Friday that allowed us to open Saturday. We left on Saturday with not enough food to open on Monday.
Then on Saturday afternoon we got a very big donation of fruit and veg from KD Davis.
Requests also poured in from people who were now self isolating and could not get food deliveries and no one to shop. We did 23 deliveries that weekend.
We have also been well supported by Astrea Woodfield Academy who donated food they didn’t need.
We have also received outstanding support from all areas of Doncaster Council. They have been very encouraging and helpful.
WEEK Three beginning 30th March
In normal times we gave out between 25-30 food bags each week. On Saturday we passed 30 in a single day. Monday on week 3 we had 40 people come to food bank in a single day.
This week also marked a step forward in our sustainability when we got two extra permanent FareShare pickups from Tesco making three per week in total.
If the extra donations were helpful, we could not keep pace with those attending.
This photo is before and after on Tuesday 31st March.
reWe needed to modify how we operated as more people came and by th need of week 3 we had evolved to a flow through system. People came in through one door cleansed their hands picked up a bog and selected the food they needed. they then left through he north door and we modified the donations area to accommodate this change. We had a 100 people through the food bank and we did 25 deliveries.
As in all crisis the poor are more effected than anyone, and we were seeing the affects every day.
WEEK Four beginning 6th April
A massive response by the community helped sustain us with people acting as drop off points for donations. The number of people attending continued to increase and it was a constant struggle to keep the food supply to meet demand.
We also saw the arrival of some barriers to help with social distancing in the question outside. One day we had 16 queuing when we opened at 9:30am
We had 122 people attend this week, a three fold increase in the first four weeks.
Donations continued to come from Tesco, one nights donations are shown in the photo.
Where can we bring donations?
To St John the Evangelist, on the corner of Balby Road and Greenfield Lane, Balby DN4 0PT
Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 8:30 and 11:30
Can we donate money? Yes Please!
We have some envelopes or even a standing order form if you would like to give regularly. You can give electronically in a number of ways shown in the next panel